Time Warner Cable's Incoming CEO Ready to Sell If Price Is Right

Thursday, 05 Dec 2013 04:20 PM

 

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Rob Marcus has a message for Time Warner Cable Inc. shareholders: I’m the right guy to decide whether to sell the company.

The 48-year-old chief operating officer is replacing Glenn Britt as Time Warner Cable’s chief executive officer on Jan. 1, amid intense speculation that the company will be acquired. Marcus’s background as Time Warner Inc.’s head of mergers from 2003 to 2005, and his later years as chief financial officer of the cable business, have given him the experience to know a good deal when he sees it, he said in an interview.

Marcus is taking the reins at a “weird” time, he said. Charter Communications Inc., a cable operator about a third the size of Time Warner Cable in market valuation, is putting together a bid to acquire the company, according to people familiar with the matter. Comcast Corp. and Cox Communications Inc. also have considered making takeover offers, they said.

“I am the perfect guy to manage the M&A component out there,” Marcus said at the company’s headquarters in New York’s Time Warner Center. “As much as I’d like to be modest, I am kind of built to manage situations like this.”

Charter, backed by billionaire and cable-industry veteran John Malone, is raising about $25 billion in debt financing as part of a potential bid, one of the people with knowledge of the matter said last week. It’s also considered a joint deal with Comcast, the largest U.S. cable operator, to acquire Time Warner Cable together and split up its assets, the people have said.

How High?

Time Warner Cable, the second-largest U.S. cable provider, would probably accept a bid of $150 to $160 a share, according to a person familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because negotiations are private. That would value the company at as much as $45 billion, about 22 percent above its current market capitalization, a figure that has already soared this year because of the takeover speculation.

Marcus declined to comment on potential bid prices. Alex Dudley, a spokesman for Stamford, Connecticut-based Charter, declined to comment on a potential Charter offer.

Time Warner Cable has hired proxy solicitor MacKenzie Partners Inc. in case Charter attempts a hostile takeover or sends a so-called bear hug letter with an acquisition bid before Time Warner Cable’s annual meeting next year, the person said. MacKenzie, which specializes in mergers and acquisitions, helps companies with unsolicited tender offers and proxy fights, where shareholders attempt to gain control over management.

Time Warner Cable shares fell 1 percent to $130.89 as of 3:30 p.m. in New York, while Charter dropped 1.9 percent to $127.

© Copyright 2014 Bloomberg News. All rights reserved.

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