Charter in talks to buy Bright House, report says

Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) has quietly been in talks with billionaire Si Newhouse Jr. for months about buying Bright House Networks.

So reported Bloomberg on Thursday, citing unnamed sources purportedly close to negotiations of what would be an all-stock deal that could be valued at over $12 billion.

"As an asset, Bright House has much to recommend it," wrote media analyst Craig Moffett to investors Thursday. "It is the second largest privately held cable MSO (behind Cox Communications) with 2.1 million video subscribers and over 4 million homes passed, largely concentrated in the Tampa/Orlando corridor of Central Florida. The company has a reputation for being extremely well run, and it has--lmost uniquely among cable MSOs--a strong reputation for service and customer satisfaction."

It remains unclear, Moffett added, as to whether the purchase would be backup plan in the event the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal gets approved.

Charter was outbid by Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) in its quest last year to acquire Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC). Charter now has a third-party role in the massive, $45 billion Comcast-TWC transaction and is waiting for regulatory approval to, among other things, launch a joint venture with Comcast called Greatland Connections.

Asked at a Deutche Bank conference this earlier this week about rumors that Charter would aggressively pursue TWC if the federal government rejects Comcast's bid, Charter CFO Christopher Winfrey demurred on the question, saying he was anxious to get the merger completed. Charter has secured ample financing to uphold its end of the deal.

"I'm paying a million dollars a day in interest, so I'm anxious to get these transactions closed," Winfrey said.

For more:
- read this Bloomberg story

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