Charter's confident CFO Winfrey says TWC/Bright House purchases will close by the end of 2015

While analysts cast fresh doubt on his company's ability to gain regulatory approval of its twin cable purchases, Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) CFO Christopher Winfrey told investors that his MSO is ready to close the purchases of Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) and Bright House Networks by the end of this year.

"Regulators have had the vast majority of the information from Time Warner Cable and Charter for the last year and a half," Winfrey said at the Deutsche Bank Leveraged Finance Conference, remarking on disclosures that were part of the earlier review of Comcast's (NASDAQ: CMCSA) failed attempt to acquire TWC.

"We learned what were some of the key drivers for why Comcast didn't close," Winfrey added. "And we were able to come out very quickly and address a bunch of issues that were in the public interest."

Winfrey's comments come following remarks last week from FCC General Counsel John Sallet, who said his agency's concern over how a combined Comcast-TWC would deal with online video competition was a crucial element to the regulatory rejection of that deal.

Earlier in the week, BTIG's Richard Greenfield -- one of the few naysayers regarding Charter's regulatory approval prospects -- blogged,  "After reading Sallet's comments from last Friday, there is clearly a path for the FCC to block Charter Time Warner Cable (not to mention Altice Cablevision), given that it does not increase competition. If you take Sallet's focus on adding to competition and the DoJ's 'bigger is badder' commentary, blocking the transaction would appear to be in the public interest."

Winfrey, however, reminded investors that "New Charter" will have control of only around 30 percent of the U.S. broadband market versus the 60 percent threshold Comcast-TWC would have had. Charter, he added, also has the backing of Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) and Cogent, two pivotal opponents for Comcast. 

Meanwhile, Winfrey said transitional components put in place by Charter as part of its role in the Comcast-TWC merger attempt have use as the company faces its own integration with TWC and Bright House.

For example, Charter developed billing overlay systems and procedures as it prepared to take over cable systems from Comcast and TWC as part of the scuttled deal.

"We'll be able to utilize some of that transition capital," Winfrey said. "The time and money we spent on the previous transaction is not lost."

For more:
- visit this Charter investor relations site
- read this BTIG Research blog post (reg. req.)

Related articles:
Charter, TWC facing federal inquiries into how they might deal with online video competition
FCC's Sallet: Comcast-TWC merger would have thrown 'sand in gears' of online video distributors
TWC shareholders approve Charter takeover

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