By Soyoung Kim, Nicola Leske and Liana B. Baker
Top U.S. cable provider Comcast Corp has tapped JPMorgan Chase & Co for advice as it evaluates a potential bid for Time Warner Cable Inc, people familiar with the matter said.
Comcast brought in the bank to help review options as speculation about cable industry consolidation increased in the past several months, one of the people said.
Comcast does not plan to make a pre-emptive bid for No. 2 cable provider Time Warner Cable, the subject of a months-long pursuit by much smaller rival Charter Communications Inc, but could jump in if signs emerge that Charter is getting close to a deal, the people said.
Comcast, which has a market value of more than $127 billion, might also decide against doing any deal, they added.
The people asked not to be identified by name because the matter is not public. Representatives for Comcast and JPMorgan declined to comment.
Time Warner Cable, which has said it was open to a deal at the right price, considers Comcast to be the best merger partner because the larger rival can afford to make an all-cash offer and provides a better geographic fit, separate people familiar with the matter have said.
Charter has a market value of about $13 billion, much less than Time Warner Cable\’s $37 billion, and would need to raise a large amount of debt to finance a deal.