Charter Communications completed its takeover of larger rival Time Warner Cable (and also regional operator Brighthouse Networks) in May 2016, to create the second largest US cable operator after Comcast. The combined Charter/TWC service relaunched as Charter Spectrum, serving around 26m residential and business customers across 41 US states. Thomas Rutledge is chairman & CEO, but the company's biggest shareholders are media tycoons John Malone, via his Liberty Broadband vehicle, and the Newhouse family, owners of Advance and Conde Nast. The deal more than quadrupled the size by customers of the original Charter business, and revenues are expected to rise from under $10bn in 2015 to over $40bn. The Charter cable business was created in Missouri in 1993, and was subsequently acquired by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. However, huge debts generated by expansion left the company struggling and it eventually filed for bankrupcy in 2009. It was rescued by private equity investors, and John Malone became its biggest shareholder in 2013. In 2014, Charter attempted to engineer a merger with Time Warner Cable, but its offer was topped by one from larger rival Comcast. However, that combination was blocked by regulators on competition grounds, allowing Charter to snap up the orphaned TWC on the rebound. Adbrands does not profile this company but subscribers may access account assignments and contact information. The searchable account assignments database is available to full subscribers to Adbrands.net premium services. Click here to access Adbrands account assignments (subscribers only); or see here for information on how to subscribe.
Capsule checked 20th February 2017
Adbrands Weekly Update 23rd Feb 2017: Charter Communications reported its first annual results since it swallowed Time Warner Cable and Bright House to become the second largest cable operator in the US. Despite the inevitable complications of getting to grips with its substantially increased footprint, combined customer numbers continued to rise, topping 26m by the end of the year. Proforma full year revenues were up 7% on a comparable basis to over $40bn while net income soared almost tenfold to over $1bn.
Adbrands Weekly Update 2nd Feb 2017: AT&T and Verizon reported lacklustre results from their core telecoms businesses, adding fresh urgency to their push into media. Indeed, hot on the heels of their annual results came reports that Verizon has made an approach to acquire what is now the #2 cable company Charter Communications. If such a deal were to come off, the price tag could be easily in excess of $100bn. Key to Charter's attraction is its fixed broadband footprint which has already around 24m cable and broadband customers in the US, and is within reach of twice that many homes. Verizon's existing FiOS service has only 7m subscribers. The urgency of further expansion was highlighted by Verizon's annual results, with revenues and profits both down significantly.
Adbrands Weekly Update 29th Sep 2016: Charter Communications, now the #2 cable provider in the US following its takeover of Time Warner Cable, is to follow its biggest rival Comcast into the wireless telecoms sector. Like Comcast it will use a combination of its own network of wifi hotspots, combined with wireless bandwidth leased from Verizon. CEO Tom Rutledge told an investor conference that the company's cable network currently passes around 50m homes across the nation, but so far only around half subscribe to the company's services. He hopes to use the new wireless service to improve that percentage.
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th May 2016: As had been expected, US federal regulators approved two key deals that will reshape the US cable industry. Charter Communications' acquisition of both Time Warner Cable and BrightHouse Networks, and the purchase of Cablevision by French group Altice were both greenlit by the FCC. Final approval is still required from the states of California and New York respectively, but no last-minute complications are expected. The enlarged Charter moves up to become the #2 broadband provider, and #3 video supplier in the US, behind Comcast and AT&T respectively. Altice will be the #4 cable provider.
Adbrands Weekly Update 17th Mar 2016: There were reports that US regulators plan to approve Charter Communications' proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable, but with some conditions. These are primarily designed to prevent the merged entity from restricting the availability of content through rival viewing channels, especially online streaming. Nor will it be able to throttle broadband service, thereby affecting the quality of streamed media. Charter may also be obliged to to boost the available bandwidth of its broadband service, and offer other concessions that would improve the viability of online video.
Adbrands Weekly Update 28th May 2015: John Malone, often regarded as the godfather of the US cable industry for his pioneering role in the 1990s, has picked up the pieces from the failed Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger, and put them back together in a new design. Malone's Liberty Broadband entity is already the biggest shareholder in Charter Communications, whose previous bids for Time Warner Cable were shunned in favour of Comcast. Now he has agreed not only to acquire TWC for $55bn in cash in stock (or $79bn including debt), but also resurrected a separate side-deal for smaller Bright House Networks worth around $10.4bn. The combination requires approval from regulators, but this should be an easier sell than the Comcast deal. The combined business would have considerably less broadband dominance than the proposed Comcast/TWC merger would have had. But it will reach around 24m customers spread across 41 states, closing the gap with Comcast's current footprint of 27m subscribers. Liberty would end up with a 25% voting stake in the enlarged business. The Newhouse family, owners of the Advance/Newhouse media empire which currently includes Bright House, would have around 7%.
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