Charter Communications on Tuesday said it will acquire Time Warner Cable in a deal valued at more than $55 billion. Charter will also buy Bright House Networks, a smaller cable company, for $10.4 billion. The two deals combined will make Charter into the second-largest cable and broadband provider in the U.S., with about 24 million subscribers, behind only Comcast, which has about 27 million subscribers.
Time Warner shareholders: An extra $10 billion over the $45.2 billion Comcast had offered sure makes for a nice payday after the earlier deal got scrapped. “Time Warner Cable has succeeded in extracting a fantastic price for its shareholders, far exceeding our expectations,” Morningstar strategist Michael Hodel wrote Tuesday. Hedge fund managers John Paulson of Paulson & Co. and Chris Hohn of Children’s Investment Fund Management reportedly both had sizable holdings in Time Warner Cable.
Time Warner Cable subscribers: The company’s service is reviled by customers. Charter’s isn’t exactly beloved, either, and subscribers may not see any immediate changes, but Charter promises that the deal will translate into faster broadband for subscribers and more free public Wi-Fi. Whether it actually does or not, the deal seems to spell the end of the Time Warner Cable name. Subscribers won’t miss it.
John Malone: The Liberty Media billionaire finally gets the megadeal he’s been looking for to make Charter Communications into a major industry power. If the deals goes through, the company would become the second-largest cable and broadband provider in the country, with some 24 million total subscribers.
Comcast: At least CEO Brian Rogers was graceful about the prospect of a larger competitor. "This deal makes all the sense in the world,” he said in a statement. “I would like to congratulate all the parties."
Television content providers: One rationale for the deal is that the scale of the combined company will afford it more leverage in its negotiations with programmers.
Cable customers and online video watchers? The proposed deal still concerns consumer advocates like those at public interest group Free Press. “The issue of the cable industry's power to harm online video competition, which is what ultimately sank Comcast’s consolidation plans, are very much at play in this deal,” said Derek Turner, research director for Free Press. “Ultimately, this merger is yet another example of the poor incentives Wall Street’s quarterly-result mentality creates. Charter would rather take on an enormous amount of debt to pay a premium for Time Warner Cable than build fiber infrastructure, improve service for its existing customers or bring competition into new communities.”
There were 18 million military veterans in the United States in 2018, according to the Census Bureau. That figure includes 485,000 World War II vets, 1.3 million who served in the Korean War, 6.4 million from the Vietnam War era, 3.8 million from the first Gulf War and another 3.8 million since 9/11. We join with the rest of the country today in thanking them for their service.
Democratic presidential candidates are proposing a variety of new taxes to pay for their preferred social programs. Bloomberg’s Laura Davison and Misyrlena Egkolfopoulou took a look at how the top four candidates would fare under their own tax proposals.
“The fact is very little medical care is shoppable. We become good shoppers when we are repeat shoppers. If you buy a new car every three years, you can become an informed shopper. There is no way to become an informed shopper for your appendix. You only get your appendix out once.”
— David Newman, former director of the Health Care Cost Institute, quoted in an article Thursday by Noam Levey of the Los Angeles Times. Levey says the “consumer revolution” in health care – in which patients shop around for the best prices, forcing doctors, hospitals and pharmaceutical firms to compete with lower prices – hasn’t materialized, but the higher deductibles that were part of the effort are very much in effect. “High-deductible health insurance was supposed to make American patients into smart shoppers,” Levey writes. “Instead, they got stuck with medical bills they can't afford.”
The House Ways and Means Committee released a new analysis of drug prices in the U.S. compared to 11 other developed nations, and the results, though predictable, aren’t pretty. Here are the key findings from the report:
- The U.S. pays the most for drugs, though prices varied widely.
- U.S. drug prices were nearly four times higher than average prices compared to similar countries.
- U.S. consumers pay significantly more for drugs than other countries, even when accounting for rebates.
- The U.S. could save $49 billion annually on Medicare Part D alone by using average drug prices for comparator countries.