Is Charter Communications Preparing A Big Deal?

A lot of Wall Streeters believe that something important is in the works. The cable company’s shares are up 5% in afternoon trading amid talk that it’s gearing up for a deal with a larger company — possibly either Time Warner Cable or Cox. Word has it that Charter just froze all budgets including hiring at its new headquarters in Stamford, CT. The company won’t confirm or deny. Yesterday Charter said it hired a Wall Street vet to handle M&A: Charles Fisher is the new SVP for corporate finance. He was a Senior Managing Director with Guggenheim Securities, and led the media investment banking practice at Nomura Securities. Charter also hired former Credit Suisse analyst Stefan Anninger to be VP of investor relations. The timing seems a little odd: Former Cablevision COO Tom Rutledge became CEO just a year ago, and is in the middle of moving top management to Stamford from the company’s long-time headquarters in St. Louis. Still, some savvy investors evidently believe that Charter is ready to take off. Financial news web site Inside Monkey reports that billionaire investors Stephen Mandel of Lone Pine Capital, Howard Marks of Oaktree Capital, and George Soros recently bought or increased their stakes in Charter. The company plans to disclose its Q4 results on February 22.

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