Comcast is planning to kill its proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable before the feds can kill it first.
Bloomberg is quoting sources who say that Comcast is ready to back away from the merger, which would be valued at around $45 billion.
This comes on the heels of reports that the FCC had proposed a “hearing designation order” for the merger review – a move that signaled the deal was fast approaching dead.
“In effect, that would put the $45.2 billion merger in the hands of an administrative law judge, and would be seen as a strong sign the FCC doesn’t believe the deal is in the public interest,” wrote the Wall Street Journal.
The FCC isn’t the only regulatory agency with doubts about the merger. Antitrust officials at the Department of Justice were reportedly ready to recommend killing the merger, citing concerns that the two companies would create an entity that would ultimately be too large and harm consumers.
Comcast met with reps from both the DoJ and the FCC to try to iron out a deal – compromises to make the merger happen – but it appears those talks went nowhere.
But as Bloomberg points out, the FCC pill was much tougher to swallow than the one from the Justice Department, however bitter it may have been:
While the DOJ has to present a case in court to block the deal, an FCC hearing referral could prove to be the bigger obstacle to Comcast’s bid to expand its cable and Internet footprint. The last time the FCC staff proposed sending a merger to a hearing was over AT&T Inc.’s bid to buy T-Mobile USA Inc. in 2011, prompting the companies to drop the deal. The Justice Department had already brought a lawsuit seeking to block the merger.
Comcast’s line for over a year has been that the acquisition is “pro-consumer, pro-competitive, strongly in the public interest, and approvable.” We’ll see if Comcast is soon signing a different tune. A final decision on whether to abandon the deal could come as early as Friday.
Image via Steven Depolo, Flickr Creative Commons