Key among the collateral impact of the scuttled merger between Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) last week was the simultaneous collapse of GreatLand Communications, a new cable company that was set to be formed as an adjacent part of the megadeal.
With Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR) controlling 33 percent of the company, the MSO would have served 2.5 million former Comcast and TWC subscribers across Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Tennessee and Wisconsin.
GreatLand had an executive team in place full of well-regarded cable-industry veterans. But as of Monday, it's as if the company never existed.
"I was very excited to build a cable company from scratch in the 21st century," said CEO Michael Willner, speaking to Bloomberg. "I thought it would be the only opportunity that anyone would ever have to build a cable company in this century. Working with the guys at Charter and Comcast was invigorating. I think we would have served our customers well."
In taking a speculative position at a company that hinged on federal approval of a controversial $45.2 billion deal, Willner didn't give up his day job--he's still simultaneously listed as the CEO of technology company Penthera Partners.
Also joining the GreatLand team was CFO Matthew Siegel, who remains as senior VP and treasurer of TWC. Executive VPs Leonard Baxt and Keith Hall, as well as senior VP Michele Roth, were also on the launch team. Chris Slattery, my former executive VP of operations at Insight was designated to become GreatLand's COO.
Speaking to Bloomberg, Willner voiced frustration regarding the regulatory outcome:
"The FCC talked about public interest but hasn't explained what wasn't being satisfied," he said. "This process took 14 months. Companies make significant plans and people's careers are affected and impacted. They make decisions to go other places and do new things as a result of the transaction. And then after 14 months it ends, and no one quite knows why."
Later, in a conversation with FierceCable, Willner said each of the executives who signed onto the prospective company understood the career risk they were taking. "Everyone understood the risk of the deal and the folks at Charter and Comcast were transparent, fair and committed to making it work."
- read this Bloomberg story
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Updated: This article was updated April 27 with additional commentary by Michael Willner. A correction was also made to reflect the fact that Matthew Siegel remains at Time Warner Cable.