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Charter Shares Surge 9% Amid Verizon Merger Report

According to the Wall Street Journal, media/telecom giants Verizon and Charter Communications are weighing a merger that would create a $280 billion industry behemoth.

The WSJ, citing people familiar with the matter, indicates the talks are still in the preliminary stages:

Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam has made a preliminary approach to officials close to Charter, which has a market value of more than $80 billion. Verizon is working with advisers to study a potential transaction, the people said. There’s no guarantee a deal will materialize.

Verizon’s landline telephone business is all but gone, and its wireless growth has largely stalled, hence its search to add new revenue streams via acquisition. The company’s planned acquisition of Yahoo’s core businesses hit a major snag recently after Yahoo revealed its user accounts had been hacked in the largest data breach in history. VZ said it was still exploring the impact of the hack yesterday during its latest earnings report.

It’s unclear if Verizon could pull off both acquisitions this year. Charter’s market cap currently sits around $80 billion. Verizon’s is about $194 billion, and the company already has over $100 billion in debt.

There are also regulatory concerns of the proposed Verizon/Charter tie-up. It’s unclear whether new president Donald Trump will oppose such mega-mergers, but in the past he’s indicated an unfavorable view of putting too much power in the hands of too few, especially in the media space.

Charter Communications, Inc. (NASDAQ:CHTR) was trading at $338.84 per share on Thursday morning, up $28.53 (+9.19%). Year-to-date, CHTR has now gained 17.69%, versus a 2.68% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

Meanhile, Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ) wasn’t faring nearly as well. Verizon was trading at $48.90 per share on Thursday morning, down $0.87 (-1.75%). Year-to-date, VZ has declined -7.41%, versus a 2.68% rise in the benchmark S&P 500 index during the same period.

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