Marcus: No Updates on Charter Closing

TWC Chief Says Progress Being Made, But No Predictions
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Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Rob Marcus stopped short of predicting when its planned $78.7 billion merger with Charter Communications would be completed, but assured investors and analysts that there is no increased uncertainty around when the deal will ultimately be closed.

Charter announced its intention to purchase Time Warner Cable in May, and had originally expected the transaction to close by the end of 2015. While that target was missed, most analysts had expected the deal would close by the end of the first quarter of 2016.

The deal did win New York State Public Service Commission approval on Jan. 8, but it is still awaiting the nod from California’s Public Utility Commission. A public hearing in Los Angeles on the matter on Jan. 26 apparently went well, according to Marcus, but again he declined to stick his neck out for a date.

The Federal Communications Commission restarted the informal 180-day shot clock on the deal on Jan. 25, which would suggest the deal could be closed by the end of March. But the California PUC had issued a timeline that would suggest a June close, a date that Marcus said the companies hoped could be compressed.

“It’s impossible to predict whether or not the FCC would stop the [shot] clock again, I have no indication that they would,” Marcus said on a conference call with analysts to discuss fourth quarter results.  “This is an informal shot clock and they have a lot of latitude in how they proceed. “I wouldn’t describe there being more uncertainty at all. We’re further along than where we were when we last were on the phone with you.”

Whatever happens, Time Warner Cable is on the road to delivering a much stronger company to Charter once and if the deal clears. In addition to its strongest video subscriber growth in nearly a decade, TWC also increased revenue 3.9% for the year and 4.9% for the quarter. While cash flow (OIBDA) growth was flat in Q4 and down 1.1% for the full year, Marcus said that is coming too.

“We said our 2016 plan contemplated continued subscriber growth and better financial results and when we say better financial results we mean not just revenue, we mean OIBDA growth,” Marcus said on the call.     

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