Charter Communications on Tuesday said it will acquire Time Warner Cable in a deal valued at more than $55 billion. Charter will also buy Bright House Networks, a smaller cable company, for $10.4 billion. The two deals combined will make Charter into the second-largest cable and broadband provider in the U.S., with about 24 million subscribers, behind only Comcast, which has about 27 million subscribers.
Time Warner shareholders: An extra $10 billion over the $45.2 billion Comcast had offered sure makes for a nice payday after the earlier deal got scrapped. “Time Warner Cable has succeeded in extracting a fantastic price for its shareholders, far exceeding our expectations,” Morningstar strategist Michael Hodel wrote Tuesday. Hedge fund managers John Paulson of Paulson & Co. and Chris Hohn of Children’s Investment Fund Management reportedly both had sizable holdings in Time Warner Cable.
Time Warner Cable subscribers: The company’s service is reviled by customers. Charter’s isn’t exactly beloved, either, and subscribers may not see any immediate changes, but Charter promises that the deal will translate into faster broadband for subscribers and more free public Wi-Fi. Whether it actually does or not, the deal seems to spell the end of the Time Warner Cable name. Subscribers won’t miss it.
John Malone: The Liberty Media billionaire finally gets the megadeal he’s been looking for to make Charter Communications into a major industry power. If the deals goes through, the company would become the second-largest cable and broadband provider in the country, with some 24 million total subscribers.
Comcast: At least CEO Brian Rogers was graceful about the prospect of a larger competitor. "This deal makes all the sense in the world,” he said in a statement. “I would like to congratulate all the parties."
Television content providers: One rationale for the deal is that the scale of the combined company will afford it more leverage in its negotiations with programmers.
Cable customers and online video watchers? The proposed deal still concerns consumer advocates like those at public interest group Free Press. “The issue of the cable industry's power to harm online video competition, which is what ultimately sank Comcast’s consolidation plans, are very much at play in this deal,” said Derek Turner, research director for Free Press. “Ultimately, this merger is yet another example of the poor incentives Wall Street’s quarterly-result mentality creates. Charter would rather take on an enormous amount of debt to pay a premium for Time Warner Cable than build fiber infrastructure, improve service for its existing customers or bring competition into new communities.”
Lawmakers are considering three separate bills that are intended to reduce the cost of prescription drugs. Here’s an overview of the proposals, from a series of charts produced by the Kaiser Family Foundation this week. An interesting detail highlighted in another chart: 88% of voters – including 92% of Democrats and 85% of Republicans – want to give the government the power to negotiate prices with drug companies.
From Gallup: “A record 25% of Americans say they or a family member put off treatment for a serious medical condition in the past year because of the cost, up from 19% a year ago and the highest in Gallup's trend. Another 8% said they or a family member put off treatment for a less serious condition, bringing the total percentage of households delaying care due to costs to 33%, tying the high from 2014.”
That’s how much the private debt collection program at the IRS collected in the 2019 fiscal year. In the black for the second year in a row, the program cleared nearly $148 million after commissions and administrative costs.
The controversial program, which empowers private firms to go after delinquent taxpayers, began in 2004 and ran for five years before the IRS ended it following a review. It was restarted in 2015 and ran at a loss for the next two years.
Senate Finance Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA), who played a central role in establishing the program, said Monday that the net proceeds are currently being used to hire 200 special compliance personnel at the IRS.
The federal budget deficit for October and November was $342 billion, up $36 billion or 12% from the same period last year, the Congressional Budget Office estimated on Monday. Revenues were up 3% while outlays rose by 6%, CBO said.