Comcast may have abandoned Time Warner Cable at the altar last month, but another telecom company has stepped forward to marry the spinning pinwheel of woe.
Charter Communications announced that it will purchase TWC for $56.7 billion, roughly $11 billion more than Comcast's offer.
If the TWC purchase is approved along with another acquisition by Charter, Charter's customer base will increase fourfold to 24 million, making it the second-largest cable company in the country by number of subscribers behind Comcast's 27 million.
“We’re a very different company to Comcast and this is a very different transaction,” Charter's chief executive and the future leader of the Charter/TWC Antichrist, Thomas Rutledge, told the Times.
While Comcast has NBCUniversal, Charter has billionaire (and America's largest private landowner) John Malone, whose company owns a large chunk of Charter and who the paper describes as the "main backer" of the TWC acquisition.
Malone, who Senator Al Gore once nicknamed "Darth Vader," has referred to regulation strengthening net neutrality as "socialism," and has influential stakes in Starz and Lionsgate.
Here's a taste of Malone's style from a 2010 WSJ interview:
WSJ: What are you doing to protect against the weak American economy?
Mr. Malone: Well, my wife, who is very concerned about these things, moved all her personal cash to Australia and Canada. She wants to have a place to go if things blow up here.
Canada has a lot more fiscal and bank responsibility than most places in the world and lots of natural resources.
We have a retreat that's right on the Quebec border. We own 18 miles on the border, so we can cross. Anytime we want to we can get away.
It would probably be illegal but we could go. Actually our snowmobile trail goes right on the border.
Clearly a man who spends a lot of time trying to relate to his customers.
"With today's announcement, we have delivered on our commitment to maximizing shareholder value," TWC's chairman and CEO Robert Marcus said in a statement, as he slammed the door to his gilded escape hatch bound for the stratosphere.
The federal government still has to approve the acquisition.
In a statement, Delara Derakhshani, policy counsel for Consumers Union, said that the group was "skeptical" about the TWC/Charter deal.
"When it comes to cable consolidation, history teaches us to be very concerned about the benefits for consumers,” Derakhshani said.
“Prices for cable and broadband continue to go up, and customer service is dismal. In a customer satisfaction survey of 17 cable providers by Consumer Reports, Charter ranked 14th, and Time Warner Cable was 16th. We’re going to meet with federal regulators to make sure the consumer perspective is heard.”