UPDATE 1-Time Warner Cable staunched subscriber bleed in Q4

Wed Jan 8, 2014 12:12pm EST

By Liana B. Baker

LAS VEGAS Jan 8 (Reuters) - Time Warner Cable Inc shed 215,000 video subscribers in the fourth quarter but added about 40,000 high-speed Internet home customers, its chief financial officer said on Wednesday.

That marked an improvement from the third quarter for a cable company that's the subject of takeover speculation. It lost 304,000 video customers, almost double the number Wall Street investors had expected, and 24,000 Internet users during that period.

Chief Financial Officer Arthur Minson said the company has seen favorable trends so far in January, after having added 60,000 subscribers in December - 40,000 more than it managed in the same month a year earlier.

"Seven of the last eight weeks have been a little bit better than last year so we have our mojo back on the subscriber side, and we're very optimistic as we head into the year," Minson told an investor conference held on the sidelines of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

Liberty Media Corp, which has a large stake in cable operator Charter Communications Inc, has made no secret of its pursuit of No.2 cable provider Time Warner Cable, which is being circled by other suitors such as Comcast Corp and privately held Cox, industry sources have said.

Liberty Chairman John Malone argues new managers such as Charter Chief Executive Tom Rutledge could do a better job running the company, which has suffered some of the industry's worst subscriber losses in past years.

Malone, whose Liberty Media owns 27 percent of Charter Communications, the country's fourth largest cable operator, is expected to make a bid to buy Time Warner Cable in coming weeks. Comcast, the nation's largest, is mulling a bid as well.

If a company comes along with an offer that is better than the value the company can create on its own, "that's something we need to take a hard look at," Minson said on Wednesday.

But he added any deal would have a "high bar."

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