Comcast flees $45bn monster-merger with Time Warner Cable

Thing we all knew was going to happen has officially happened

Comcast has admitted it has given up on its $45bn acquisition of Time Warner Cable (TWC).

Comcast, America's biggest cable giant, announced in the past few hours that it will end the pursuit of its largest rival amid stiff opposition from government watchdogs and other telcos.

"Today, we move on," declared Comcast CEO Brian Roberts. "Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn’t agree, we could walk away."

The mega-merger had been on the rocks for some time. US broadband regulator the FCC was leaning against approving the deal, and members of Congress had decried the deal as anticompetitive.

Comcast suggested it can drop the deal without having to pay a charge to TWC to compensate it for any money or value lost from the failed deal, pursuant to a clause in the companies' 2014 merger proposal [PDF] (though far be it from us to suggest lawyers won't squeeze a few bucks out from either side.)

Shortly after Comcast confirmed it was giving up, FCC chairman Tom Wheeler published his reasoning behind opposing the biz gobble.

"Comcast and Time Warner Cable’s decision to end Comcast’s proposed acquisition of Time Warner Cable is in the best interests of consumers," he said. "The proposed transaction would have created a company with the most broadband and video subscribers in the nation alongside the ownership of significant programming interests."

From its announcement the Comcast/TWC merger was beset by worries the deal would create a cable monopoly in the US. Rivals including Dish Network and Netflix complained that the would-be behemoth would be able to muscle out over-the-top streaming services and extract premium fees from Americans.

Comcast, for its part, said it would give up territorial rights to nearly four million customers, an offer that has since been pulled with the collapse of the TWC plan.

Eric Holder, US Attorney General, was over the Moon: the US Department of Justice was dead against the merger. "This is a victory not only for the DoJ, but also for providers of content and streaming services who work to bring innovative products to consumers across America and around the world," Holder said in a statement. ®


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