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Telecom giant Verizon is exploring a possible combination with cable giant Charter Communications in which John Malone’s Liberty Media owns a big stake, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
It wasn’t immediately clear what form a combination would take, but Charter’s stock jumped nearly 9 percent in early trading to a new 52-week high of $338.
A Verizon spokesman and a Charter representative declined to comment.
The news comes following a big year of deals in the broader industry last year. Charter closed the acquisitions of Time Warner Cable and Bright House to become the second-largest U.S. cable operator. With fellow telecom giant AT&T having agreed to acquire Time Warner for $85.4 billion, Wall Street has been wondering whether Verizon would look to buy a cable operator, satellite TV firm Dish Network or another content company.
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam has made a preliminary approach to officials close to Charter, the Journal said. It added that Verizon is working with advisers to study a potential transaction, but it is very early in the process, and there is no guarantee a deal will ever happen.
It is not clear if Charter, which has about 17 million pay TV subscribers, would sell, as the company has been a consolidator itself in recent years.
Verizon had a market capitalization of nearly $195 billion at Wednesday’s market close. Charter’s value stood at around $85 billion.
Macquarie Capital analyst Amy Yong says that a deal “makes a lot of industrial logic.”
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