Investors like the consistent reports that Charter Communications is prowling for acquisition targets, especially now that it’s backed by Liberty Media which recently paid $2.6B for a 27% stake in the cable operator. But some are less sure than they were late last week that Time Warner Cable will be a target. Shares in the No. 2. cable company slid 2.5% to $101.29 today. That’s just a slight retreat after Friday’s 8.3% jump to a 52-week high of $104.13, which followed a CNBC report that Charter has its eye on a transformational deal with Time Warner Cable. Liberty Media CEO Gregg Maffei met with TWC chief Glenn Britt recently to talk about the benefits of of a merger of equals, CNBC’s David Faber reported. Although there was no offer, Faber said that TWC decided to “re-engage with longtime advisor Morgan Stanley and hire an outside PR firm in case it needed to defend against a more public onslaught.” Investors don’t rule out the possibility that Charter, which has a market value of $11.9B, will make a bold effort to combine with TWC, valued at $29.5B. But many believe Charter probably would start off looking for smaller targets such as Cox, Mediacom, or Suddenlink. That was also a recurring theme in conversations at last week’s annual Cable Show in D.C. Charter was +1% today to $117.72 after its 5.6% bump on Friday. Most cable companies “are trading on deal speculation,” says Moffett Research’s Craig Moffett. Investors expect a consolidation wave as private equity firms that bought big stakes look for an exit plan and because only large companies “can stand toe-to-toe with the programmers.”
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