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Charter-Malone Takeover of Time Warner Cable Would Create $60 Billion Debt Monster

Phillip Dampier July 11, 2013 Charter Spectrum, Competition, Consumer News, TWC (see Charter) 1 Comment

junkJohn Malone’s power play for a Charter Communications’ takeover of Time Warner Cable would leave the nation’s second largest cable operator $60 billion in debt and has already cost creditors holding Time Warner Cable bonds $1.8 billion in value as markets react to the rumors of a leveraged buyout.

Two people familiar with ongoing private discussions report Liberty Media is prepared to borrow against its own or Time Warner Cable’s assets to put the deal together, spiking debt levels into junk territory. Charter itself already has the most debt among junk-rated U.S. cable companies, with $12.8 billion owed, according to Bloomberg.

Malone has structured highly leveraged acquisition deals throughout his history in the cable industry, borrowing heavily to finance merger deals and then raising subscriber rates to boost revenue to cut debt.

Time Warner Cable is highly exposed to a hostile takeover because its bonds lack safety provisions that would discourage the kind of acquisition Malone is attempting. Adam Cohen, founder of independent research company Covenant Review said Time Warner’s bonds are easily transferable to Charter’s name.

“The combined entity will be junk status, and the Time Warner bonds could be even junkier than the Charter bonds,” Cohen said in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. “This could be one of the worst covenant-related disasters ever for investment-grade bondholders.”

Moody’s senior vice president Neil Begley has suggested Time Warner Cable seriously consider “the Moe Green Strategy,” a nod to The Godfather.

‘You don’t buy Moe Green, Moe Green buys you!’

Begley suggested Time Warner Cable could consider putting in a bid to acquire Charter just to keep Malone on the outside looking in. That might be more effective than Time Warner acquiring a number of smaller cable operators like Cablevision, Mediacom, Cable ONE, and others to outflank Malone.

Malone is using an investment in Charter Communications as a springboard to launch his vision of a tightly consolidated cable industry, with just a handful of players providing service, instead of the dozen or so significant cable companies now in business. Malone sees Comcast as untouchable, so rolling up other operators around a Time Warner-Charter deal would be the next best thing, analysts suggest.

Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. Tim says:

    As a general rule I have little respect for companies such as Frontier and Charter that have their corporate in headquarters in a city where they are not a provider(both Stamford, CT served by Cablevision and AT&T). I have also head rumors that both CEO of Frontier and Charter live in Greenwich CT(Verizon and Cablevision served) and are both FIOS subscribers at their own residences.

    The main reason as I understand it both companies are in Stamford is to be close to their Wall Street taskmasters.

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