It's official. Comcast has announced it has abandoned its efforts to acquire Time Warner Cable, in a deal that would've been valued at around $45 billion. This follows reports on Thursday that said the Department of Justice and Federal Communications Commission were both gearing up to recommend against the deal.
If the merger had been approved, the Comcast-TWC behemoth would've controlled 57% of the US broadband market and 30% of the cable market.
"Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away. Comcast NBCUniversal is a unique company with strong momentum. Throughout this entire process, our employees have kept their eye on the ball and we have had fantastic operating results. I want to thank them and the employees of Time Warner Cable for their tireless efforts. I couldn’t be more proud of this company and I am truly excited for what’s next," said Comcast CEO Brian Roberts in a statement.
Time Warner Cable CEO Robert Marcus also weighed in on the decision, saying,
“We have always believed that Time Warner Cable is a one-of-a-kind asset. We are strong and getting stronger. Throughout this process, we’ve been laser focused on executing our operating plan and investing in our plant, products and people to deliver great experiences to our customers. Through our strong operational execution and smart capital allocation, we are confident we will continue to create significant value for shareholders. I’m extremely proud of the professionalism, dedication and resiliency our 55,000 employees have shown over the past year and thank them for their continued commitment to Time Warner Cable.”
Comcast’s line for over a year had been that the acquisition is “pro-consumer, pro-competitive, strongly in the public interest, and approvable" – but in the end the regulatory bodies in charge of reviewing the merger did not agree.
The deal was unpopular from the start, as consumer advocates argued that the company would be anti-competitive and bad for customers.
“Should the transaction survive the FCC’s and DOJ’s reviews, we believe that Comcast-TWC’s unmatched power in the telecommunications industry would lead to higher prices, fewer choices, and poorer quality services for Americans – inhibiting US consumers’ ability to fully benefit from modern technologies and American businesses’ capacity to innovate and compete on a global scale,” wrote Senators Al Franken, Bernie Sanders, Edward Markey, Ron Wyden, Elizabeth Warren, and Richard Blumenthal in a recent letter to the DoJ and FCC.
This final decision 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 wasn'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.
Here's a final way to look at it – with this, the two most-hated companies in America will not be joining forces.
So, who's going to try to buy Time Warner Cable now?
Image via Steven Depolo, Flickr Creative Commons