Report: Comcast's Roberts resisted being TWC's 'white knight' three times
Fending off hostile takeover attempts in 2013 from the likes of Charter Communications (NASDAQ: CHTR), Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) management approached Comcast (NASDAQ: CMCSA) chief Brian Roberts "at least three times" about a potential merger.
In a Monday Los Angeles Times feature written by Meg James, in which the Comcast chairman and CEO outlined his vision for the proposed $45 billion purchase of TWC, Roberts pinpointed the moment in which he decided to stop resisting TWC's overtures and become, as the paper describes, its rival's "white knight."
"I just looked in the mirror and said: 'If you are going to be an innovator, and if your products are not available in L.A. and New York, then will you truly be a great company?'" Roberts said, talking to the paper from Comcast's "gleaming" Philadelphia high-rise headquarters.
Although mixing in context regarding the opposition Comcast's faces from consumer watchdog groups, James paints a fairly flattering picture of a scrappy, innovative, family-owned business, about to take its next step. Roberts, meanwhile, is described in sort of Jobsian Silicon Valley tones, a young man who proverbially tinkered with a Commodore 64 and rubbed visionary elbows with Bill Gates in the late '90s.
And in exchange for some rather coveted exclusive access to Roberts, James allowed the 55-year-old executive to make all his desired messaging points.
One relates to the nagging customer service issues both Comcast and TWC bring to the table--Roberts let it be known that Comcast is spending $2.1 billion on systems to improve customer service, which he believes will only benefit TWC subscribers.
Roberts also addressed the video competition issue, noting that the deal wouldn't restrict choice for L.A. residents because they could still choose from DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV), Dish Network (NASDAQ: DISH), AT&T U-verse (NYSE: T) and Verizon FiOS (NYSE: VZ). (Yes, the simultaneously proposed AT&T/DirecTV merger was left unmentioned.)
Roberts also stated his belief that by extending Comcast's footprint into L.A. and New York, the company will be better able to compete with telecommunications firms that provide phone and Internet services to businesses. Comcast has just 1.6 small- and medium-sized business clients.
"It seemed to me the perfect company for the 21st century would be one that was technology-orientated with great content and national scale," Roberts said.
- read this Los Angeles Times story
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