Another Finalized Merger Could be in Regulatory Trouble - The UpStream

Another Finalized Merger Could be in Regulatory Trouble

posted Saturday Jul 28, 2018 by Scott Ertz

Another Finalized Merger Could be in Regulatory Trouble

It was only 2 weeks ago that the AT&T/Time Warner merger was placed in jeopardy when the Department of Justice appealed a court's decision that allowed the merger to be finalized a month ago. As of the appeal, AT&T had already worked Time Warner (now called WarnerMedia) into their corporate infrastructure, placing a new head over the brand and planning for some big changes at HBO.

This week, another Time Warner brand, this time Time Warner Cable, has a merger in jeopardy. Time Warner Cable was purchased in 2016 by Charter Communications, solidifying Charter's #2 position in the industry by a fairly wide margin. The combined company, including Charter, Time Warner Cable, and Brighthouse Networks, current operates under the Spectrum brand. As with any major merger of this type, there were restrictions and requirements placed on Charter in order to receive regulatory approval.

The State of New York had some fairly strict rules in place in order to approve the purchase in NY. This week, the New York State Public Service Commision (PSC) voted to revoke approval, citing a variety of noncompliance issues. Because of the revocation of approval, it means that Charter is being ordered to sell off all assets they purchased as part of the Time Warner Cable deal in New York. In addition,

Charter is ordered to file within 60 days a plan with the Commission to ensure an orderly transition to a successor provider(s). During the transition process, Charter must continue to comply with all local franchises it holds in New York State and all obligations under the Public Service Law and the Commission regulations. Charter must ensure no interruption in service is experienced by customers, and, in the event that Charter does not do so, the Commission will take further steps, including seeking injunctive relief in Supreme Court in order to protect New York consumers.

Obviously, this would not affect any other Charter's other acquisitions, including Time Warner Cable assets in other states, assuming other states do not file similar actions against the company. Pulling apart the company 2 years after the merger was completed could certainly cause problems for both brands. Trying to find a buyer in 60 days will be difficult, and will almost certainly end in Charter losing money on the deal.

Obviously, Charter believes that the order is inaccurate. The company has said that they plan to fight the order to sell the Time Warner Cable assets.


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