Comcast, TWC execs set to meet with DOJ to save merger; conditions will be 'substantial,' analyst says

Top executives from Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) are scheduled to meet with officials for the United States Justice Department Wednesday, with the two sides having their first one-on-one discussions since the $45.2 billion merger of the two cable companies was originally proposed in February 2014.

Word of the meeting, first reported by the Wall Street Journal, comes after a Friday Bloomberg report said that the DOJ is leaning against approving the deal and could turn over the decision to an administrative law judge.

"Mergers are never put to hearing in order to approve them," said Robert McDowell, a former Republican FCC commissioner, to WSJ. "They are designated for a hearing in order to kill them."

Meanwhile, if Comcast and TWC are able to work something out with the Justice Department, deal conditions could be stringent.

"The government is going to want something very substantial to approve [the deal]," noted BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield on CNBC's Squawk Box.

Bloomberg reported Friday that DOJ attorneys could submit their review as early as next week. They'll present their findings to Renata Hesse, deputy assistant attorney general for antitrust. She will then confer with top DOJ officials to determine whether a federal lawsuit should be filed to stop the merger.

According to the report, Justice Department staffers have been contacting numerous parties involved in the transaction in recent weeks to support such a potential lawsuit.

Also foreboding for the deal: There doesn't appear to be any negotiation with Comcast by either the Justice Department or Federal Communications Commission. Such bargaining might include having Comcast sell off assets viewed as anticompetitive, or mandating a change in business practices.

Comcast spokeswoman Sena Fitzmaurice responded with the following statement: "There is no basis for a lawsuit to block the transaction. The merger will result in significant consumer benefits--faster broadband speeds, access to a superior video experience, and more competition in business services resulting in billions of dollars of cost savings."

Responding to the report, Wall Street analyst firm New Street Research wrote, "Comcast response suggests continuing confidence in its legal position but that is very different from expressing confidence that the government agrees with them."

Comcast continues to lobby stridently for the deal, publishing a series of blog posts earlier this week detailing claims of how the deal will spur availability of broadband services and aid the creative community.

For more:
- read this Bloomberg story
- read this Wall Street Journal story

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