Report: Verizon eyes merger with Charter

Report: Verizon eyes merger with Charter
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Verizon is reportedly taking a preliminary look at a merger with fellow telecom giant Charter.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam has approached officials close to Charter on a potential deal. Sources told the newspaper that Verizon is also consulting with advisers about what such a merger would involve.

Charter’s interest in such a deal is unclear. Verizon and Charter both declined to comment on the report.

If both companies agreed, such a deal would likely be met with significant regulatory scrutiny over potential antitrust and anticompetitive concerns, given the overlapping media and communications spaces the companies occupy.

President Trump’s merger and antitrust policies — and how they could affect such a deal — are still unclear.

During the campaign, Trump came down hard on the proposed $85 billion dollar merger between AT&T and Time Warner, saying that as president he would not approve it because it would consolidate too much power. He also spoke harshly of the already completed Comcast-NBCUniversal merger, which he said he would be interested in breaking up.

Trump, however, has appointed a number of officials who favor deregulation and could be more amenable to mergers in the future.

His new pick to lead the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, criticized former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler last spring for what he saw as over-regulating a proposed merger between Time Warner Cable and Charter. Members of Trump’s FCC landing team — Mark Jamison, Jeffrey Eisenach and Roslyn Layton — have all expressed anti-regulation positions, and Jamison and Eisenach have voiced support for large mergers proposed in the past.

Trump’s attorney general nominee, Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsGOP strategist donates to Alabama Democrat House passes concealed carry gun bill Rosenstein to testify before House Judiciary Committee next week MORE (R-Ala.), said during his confirmation hearings that he would “have no hesitation to enforce antitrust law,” though he has a history of not advocating for antitrust regulation, instead favoring free markets.

Charter Communications is currently valued at $80 billion, and Verizon’s market cap is $199 billion.