Although Comcast dropped their bid to acquire Time Warner Cable last month (which would have resulted in a merger of the two largest cable providers in the country), it looks like Time Warner has a new suitor looking to buy. Bloomberg reported earlier today that Charter Communications is set to buy Time Warner for $195 a share, or $55.1 billion.
You may not have heard of Charter Communications, but they are the nation's third largest cable provider, and they actually made a move to buy Time Warner back in 2013. However, Time Warner rejected their bid and began negotiations with Comcast shortly after—ouch, cold. Those negotiations went on over a year while the Federal Communications Commission investigated whether such a merger would pass their regulations; Comcast ultimately dropped out.
Now, it seems Charter is ready to close a deal with Time Warner—the cable provider is also reportedly planning to buy Bright House, a smaller cable provider, along with Time Warner.
The three-way deal will still have to pass the same government regulations that the Comcast-Time Warner merger faced—but Bloomberg reported that the FCC CEO recently called Charter and Time Warner to assure their CEOs that "any transaction would be judged on merit, and there was no flat ban on cable combinations," according to someone with knowledge of the phone call.
According to CNN, the acquisition may happen as early as Tuesday.
UPDATE, May 26, 8:43 a.m. ET: Charter Communications has agreed to buy Time Warner Cable for $56.7 billion. The New York Times reports on what's fueling the deal:
The announcement represents the latest in a flurry of takeovers in the sector as companies struggle to keep pace with changes in how Americans watch and pay for television. As customers increasingly stream videos through the Internet, cable providers have sought deals to gain scale and greater bargaining power with content providers.
The times, they are a'changing. And Charter is trying to keep up—according to the Times, they've already thought of a new name:
If the deal is completed, the combined companies will be renamed New Charter.
Okay, we don't love that, but it's not bad. Because the Charter-Time Warner deal is smaller than the Comcast-Time Warner deal-that-never-happened, analysts believe it's very likely this merger will pass FCC regulations. Congrats, New Charter! Now let's work on that name.