In a speculative deal that would make all other telecom mergers seem puny by comparison if it were to actually occur, Citigroup analyst Jason Bazinet has suggested that No. 1 U.S. cable company Comcast should buy No. 1 U.S. wireless carrier Verizon.
The deal, he said, could be worth as much as $215 billion.
Comcast should acquire Verizon for four reasons, Bazinet says: Verizon’s wireless capabilities “would allow Comcast “to extend internet connectivity beyond the home”; both Comcast and Verizon need to push fiber deeper into neighborhoods, an investment that could be made once instead of twice; Verizon would be the second biggest beneficiary of wireless consolidation, following Sprint and T-Mobile; and “a reduction in the corporate tax rate is not yet reflected in Verizon’s multiple, suggesting potential upside to Comcast if the tax code changes.”
Further, Bazinet insists the “timing may be right” for such a merger. Again, he cited four reasons: Comcast has a long history of trying to acquire business that have “fallen on hard times,” notably AT&T Broadband in 2001, Disney in 2004 and NBCUniversal in 2009; Verizon’s equity has fallen 17% this year; the regulatory landscape is forgiving under the Republican administration; and press reports suggest Verizon management is open to merger talks.
In April, Bloomberg reported that Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam said that he’d be open to merger talks with Disney, CBS or Comcast.
“If Brian came knocking on the door, I’d have a discussion with him about it,” McAdam said, referring to Comcast CEO Brian Roberts.
Analysts have been navel-gazing about a potential Charter-Verizon merger for months, starting with another memo sent out by UBS’ John Hodulik in November.
Of course, neither Comcast nor Verizon are commenting on any of Bazinet’s speculation.