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Rutledge: ‘I Had Another Deal In Mind’

Charter Communications CEO Tom Rutledge alluded to the deal that got away at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia conference Wednesday, but added that second prize in the battle for Time Warner Cable – sales, swaps and spins that will double the size of his company – is ample consolation.

Charter spent the better part of 2013 pursuing Time Warner Cable, but ultimately lost out in February of this year when Comcast – at one time a proposed partner in a Charter-TWC combination – swooped in with an all-stock deal valued at about $69 billion.

But the loss of TWC was softened by a series of transactions that will effectively add about 5 million subscribers to the Stanford, Conn.-based MSOs, through sales, swaps and a 33% interest in a separately publicly traded company, dubbed GreatLand Connections.

“Well, I had another deal in mind and this was the best I could do and it's a good deal,” Rutledge said at Communacopia. He added that in addition to doubling its footprint, the deal concentrates Charter’s operations more tightly allowing it to mass market to practically its entire footprint at once as opposed to just 48% currently.

Rutledge said the company is already working through the regulatory process – it met with Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit and his team recently to discuss transition service agreements.

“Our goal is to close the deal as quickly as possible,” Rutledge said.

Rutledge offered some further insight to the company’s relationship with GreatLand, adding that in some markets, it will co-brand service with its own Spectrum moniker.

“I think in certain markets, we'd bring Spectrum services by GreatLand and the products set will be similar or if not identical from what a customer experiences regardless of which cable footprint they live in,” Rutledge said. “When we market it and take a sale, the customer will get a bill from GreatLand if they're in a GreatLand area; they'll get a bill from Charter if they're in a Charter area, but the experience of buying Spectrum services will be uniform.”