Jan 26, 2017

Verizon reportedly exploring Charter merger

WSJ reports this morning that Verizon is exploring a combination with Charter Communications. Details are sparse.

Big if true: This kind of merger would bring together the largest U.S. wireless company (not to mention a major broadband provider) with the country's second-largest broadband provider. Charter Communications last year merged with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, making it a powerhouse provider of TV and internet.

What will Trump say? This type of deal would need to be reviewed by antitrust enforcers at both the FCC and DOJ. New FCC Chairman Ajit Pai generally favors a hands-off approach to merger reviews if the companies can show how deals serve the "public interest." Trump Attorney General pick Sen. Jeff Sessions indicated the DOJ should weigh big mergers on antitrust grounds rather than "some other discreet agenda that's not reasonably connected to the merger itself."

Still: Trump has said he's wary of consolidation in the media and telecom industries, and still opposes AT&T's proposed takeover of Time Warner Inc. In interview with Axios last week, Trump said:

I think we need all the competition we can have in that industry. It's a very important industry. ā€” Donald Trump

Verizon and Charter Communications declined to comment.

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