Comcast eyes Time Warner Cable's East Coast markets -source

NEW YORK Fri Jan 24, 2014 8:21pm EST

NEW YORK Jan 24 (Reuters) - No 1 cable provider Comcast , in its talks with Charter about a possible deal to acquire parts of Time Warner Cable, would be interested in an agreement that gives Comcast the New York market and parts of New England, a person familiar with the matter said on Friday.

Discussions between Comcast Corp and Charter Communications Inc have gotten more substantive in recent days, partly because Comcast felt takeover target Time Warner Cable was seeking too high a price for itself, the person said on Friday.

Comcast is interested in acquiring Time Warner Cable's New York City market since it already has operations in neighboring Connecticut and New Jersey, the person added.

In New England, Comcast controls the Boston cable market and is also eying areas where it does not already have systems such as Maine, said the person, who asked not to be named because the matter is not public.

Los Angeles, one of Time Warner Cable's largest markets, is less attractive to Comcast, the person said.

In one scenario being discussed between the two companies, Charter would first acquire Time Warner Cable, and then later sell off markets to Comcast to generate cash.

"A combined Time Warner Cable and Charter could pay off its debt quickly if it turns around and sells off some pieces to Comcast," the person added.

The timing of an agreement between Comcast and Charter was not yet known and talks could fall apart at any time, the person cautioned.

Comcast had also been considering making a solo bid for Time Warner Cable. But its thinking has changed recently because it considered Time Warner Cable's asking price of $160 as too high, considering some of the No. 2 cable company's operational challenges.

The company was unlikely to make a bid for all of Time Warner at $150 or $160 per share, the person added.

Representatives from Comcast and Time Warner Cable declined to comment on Friday. A spokesman from Charter could not immediately be reached.

Charter offered to buy Time Warner Cable for $132.50 per share, or $37.3 billion based on shares outstanding. Time Warner Cable rejected that bid as too low and said it would consider a deal at $160 per share.

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