Verizon-Charter merger chatter heats up

Gary Shapiro (left), president of the Consumer Electronics Association, greeting Verizon execs Ivan Seidenberg (right) and Lowell McAdam at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas in 2011.

The renewed possibility of a mega merger between Verizon and Charter Communications sent Charter’s stock soaring $16 a share at midday on Thursday.

In December, Verizon chief executive Lowell McAdam raised the idea in a meeting with Wall Street analysts, saying it made “industrial sense” for his telecom to buy Charter, now the second biggest cable operator after its mergers with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. Now a new Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal report has put new wind behind the sails, though the combination would come at quite a hefty price.

Already carrying $100 billion in debt, Verizon is under pressure from Wall Street to make deals that could improve its sluggish growth, reported the Journal on Thursday. Charter’s market cap is north of $85 billion. Its 17 million cable and 21 million broadband customers would marry with Verizon’s 114 million wireless, 7 million broadband and 4.7 million video customers to “rival Comcast in wireline video and broadband scale,” reported

Verizon has been eyeing growth in the digital content and advertising space through its acquisition of AOL and pending purchase of Yahoo.

The telcom giant may also be envious of the moves of AT&T, which not only owns DirecTV but has a $109 billion (cash and stock) deal in place to acquire Time Warner - the separate (from cable), entertainment focused entity that owns CNN, HBO and Warner Bros. Pictures.

Before his election President Trump voiced objections to that latter deal. Today, who knows?