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After Comcast’s failed bid, Charter wants to give Time Warner Cable another try

(Reuters/Joshua Lott/Files)

Time Warner Cable, blocked from merging with Comcast this week by federal officials, may have a new suitor: Charter Communications

Charter, the nation’s fourth largest cable company, has begun exploring a bid for Time Warner Cable, an industry official familiar with the matter said Friday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because no public announcement has yet been made. Charter declined to comment.

Charter had pursued a takeover of Time Warner Cable in 2013. It first offered to buy the company for nearly $130 a share. Officials at Time Warner Cable, the nation’s second largest cable company, rebuffed the figure, leading Charter to increase its bid to $132 a share.

Comcast then swooped in with a bid of nearly $159 per share, leading to a merger announcement in February 2014. Fourteen months later, however, the deal fell apart as regulars moved to block the deal. Federal officials had concluded that the combined company would hold too much sway over the entertainment and television industries.

[Read: Comcast chief’s last-minute pleas to a former ally fell on deaf ears]

As recently as this February, Charter chief executive Tom Rutledge said he would still be interested in buying Time Warner Cable if it came up again.

“Any platform out there that’s available that would allow us to take advantage of scale and unsold passings is attractive to us at the right price,” Rutledge told financial analysts on a conference call. Charter serves more than 6 million subscribers with cable, telephone and high-speed internet services across 29 states.

Now the company, based in Stamford, Ct., finds itself in a position to bid once again for Time Warner.

“This is the easiest call to make,” said industry analyst Craig Moffett, of MoffettNathanson, in a research note Thursday. “But, unfortunately, everyone already knows it, and no one knows what they will bid or whether TWC will accept.”

Time Warner Cable stock closed more than 4 percent higher on anticipation of a Charter bid.