Char­ter has no in­ter­est in Sprint

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Meg James meg.james@la­ Times staff writer Rachel Spacek and Wash­ing­ton Post staff writer Brian Fung contributed to this re­port.

Ca­ble tele­vi­sion gi­ant Char­ter Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc. shot down the prospect of a merger with Sprint, de­spite in­ter­est by the wire­less phone op­er­a­tor’s par­ent, SoftBank Group Corp. of Japan, to cre­ate a mam­moth new telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions com­pany in the U.S.

“While we un­der­stand why a deal is at­trac­tive for SoftBank, Char­ter has no in­ter­est in ac­quir­ing Sprint,” Char­ter spokesman Alex Dud­ley said in a state­ment emailed Mon­day to The Times.

Char­ter is one of the na­tion’s largest In­ter­net and payTV providers, and is the dom­i­nant provider in the L.A. re­gion, with more than 1.5 mil­lion cus­tomers. The Stam­ford, Conn., com­pany also has a part­ner­ship with Ver­i­zon Com­mu­ni­ca­tions Inc. and plans to use Ver­i­zon net­works to in­tro­duce a Spec­trum-brand wire­less phone ser­vice.

The Wall Street Jour­nal first re­ported in­ter­est by Kansas City-based Sprint in com­bin­ing with the larger Char­ter, and Char­ter’s re­jec­tion of a po­ten­tial tie-up.

As Sprint’s core wire­less phone busi­ness has ma­tured, the com­pany was hop­ing to join the pa­rade of con­sol­i­da­tion that’s ram­pant in the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions in­dus­try.

But Char­ter is laden with debt af­ter its ac­qui­si­tion last year of Time Warner Ca­ble, and a tie-up would have in­tro­duced other com­pli­ca­tions be­cause of a pact be­tween Char­ter and Com­cast Corp. not to en­gage in merger or ac­qui­si­tion talks with another wire­less com­pany for at least a year with­out each other’s par­tic­i­pa­tion or go-ahead.

Char­ter’s shares jumped 5.8% on Mon­day to $391.91.

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