NEW YORK (The Deal) -- Charter Communications (CHTR) is given a much better shot at winning regulatory approval for its planned acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC) than Comcast (CMCSA) ever was thought to have in its failed bid for Time Warner Cable.
Charter's $78.7 billion agreement to acquire Time Warner Cable to form a cable and broadband provider second in scope only to Comcast was announced Saturday. Concurrent with the deal, Charter also would acquire a controlling position in Advance/Newhouse Partnership's Bright House Networks.
In early 2011, an expected deal between those two companies was thought to face a good shot of clearing U.S. regulators. In March of that year, however, AT&T (T) came along and not only broke up their merger talks with its own bid to acquire T-Mobile US, but very likely shredded Sprint's path to regulatory approval as well.
A Sprint/T-Mobile US union was originally viewed as strong combination to rival the juggernauts of AT&T and Verizon Communication (VZ). But after reviewing AT&T's proposed deal, the regulators appeared to double-down against any deal that would significantly increase concentration in the wireless market.
It is true that the AT&T/T-Mobile US deal carried some unique characteristics that made regulators loath to let T-Mobile US join Sprint when attempts were made to revive that deal in 2013. Specifically, T-Mobile US, flush with cash from a $3 billion breakup fee from AT&T, gained more market share than any other wireless carrier in 2013 after carrying out several deals such as its acquisition of MetroPCS Communications.
"The question for Charter is whether there has been an evolution in the regulators' thinking that could have an impact because of the Comcast investigation," said one telecommunications source. "It could become just like Sprint/T-Mobile, which once looked do-able, but became undo-able after the government staked out a position in the AT&T case."