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Time Warner Cable willing to take on debt for right deal

By Alex Sherman
Bloomberg News

Time Warner Cable Inc., the second-largest U.S. cable operator with operations based in Akron, would consider taking on more debt if it came across an attractive enough merger or acquisition, Chief Financial Officer Artie Minson said at a conference Tuesday.

While the New York-based company doesn’t feel the need to get bigger, the company would add more debt to its balance sheet under the right circumstances, Minson said at Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s Communacopia Conference in New York.

“If the right opportunity came along and there was a very clear path of de-leveraging over a quick period of time and the deal made sense from a return perspective, we would stretch for the right opportunity,” said Minson, who declined to say how much debt Time Warner Cable would consider adding.

Time Warner Cable, which has about 12 million video subscribers, has spurned merger advances in the past — at least in part because of debt concerns, people familiar with the situation have said.

John Malone’s Liberty Media Corp., which owns a 27 percent stake in Charter Communications Inc., held discussions with Time Warner Cable about a deal with Charter earlier this year, the sources said. Debt was an issue of contention then, according to the people.

Charter, the fourth-largest U.S. cable provider, has about a third as many customers as Time Warner Cable. Liberty and Charter had discussed the idea of borrowing against the assets of both companies to complete a deal, the people said.

Time Warner Cable has about $23.5 billion of net debt, Minson said last month on a conference call.

Verizon Communications Inc., meanwhile, raised $49 billion in debt to acquire full control of Verizon Wireless from Vodafone Group Plc, marking the largest corporate-bond sale ever. That transaction hasn’t changed Time Warner Cable’s thinking in how much debt it would be comfortable holding, Minson said.

“If there are deals and there are transactions, what we’ve proven over the past couple of years in [mergers and acquisitions] is we’ll be really disciplined about it,” Minson said.


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