Time Warner Cable Inc. is in talks about a potential sale to either Altice SA or Charter Communications Inc., people with knowledge of the matter said.
Talks with both companies are expected to continue through the weekend, and an agreement with either suitor could be reached as soon as next week, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private information. The discussions may yet fall apart and there is no certainty a deal will be reached, the people said.
Time Warner Cable, which has a market value of about $48 billion, may fetch more than $54 billion in a sale, one of the people said. It would be a large acquisition for Altice, which has a market value of closer to $36 billion and also just struck a deal to buy a controlling stake in Suddenlink Communications, the seventh-largest cable operator in the U.S., in a deal valued at $9.1 billion.
A purchase by Altice would also face scrutiny from the Commitee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., one of the people said. Still, banks are willing to finance large acquisitions and Altice shouldn’t have trouble raising the funds for a Time Warner Cable bid, two of the people said.
A spokesman for Time Warner Cable declined to comment, as did spokesmen for Charter and Altice. Reuters reported earlier that Altice had discussed financing for a Time Warner Cable bid with banks.
Cable providers are trying to get bigger as their traditional business of selling TV service comes under pressure from online rivals. Altice Chairman Patrick Drahi is seeking to expand his telecommunications empire to a U.S. cable market that is being quickly reshaped by a series of mergers.
Last month, Comcast Corp., the nation’s biggest cable company, dropped its plan to buy Time Warner Cable, the No. 2, in the face of regulatory hurdles.
U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler called the heads of Time Warner Cable and Charter to dispel notions that industry mergers won’t be approved by regulators, a person with knowledge of the calls said this week.
Charter, which had made a bid for Time Warner Cable in 2014 before Comcast trumped its proposal, contacted Time Warner Cable about possibly renewing talks as soon as the deal with Comcast evaporated, people familiar with the situation have said.