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EXCLUSIVE-Liberty sees $700 mln Charter-Time Warner Cable synergies -sources

Thursday, 19 Dec 2013 | 12:33 PM ET

NEW YORK, Dec 19 (Reuters) - Liberty Media Corp's top executives estimate that a merger between Charter Communications Inc and Time Warner Cable Inc could generate roughly $700 million in annual synergies, according to people close to the matter.

Liberty Chairman John Malone, who wants to use his 27 percent ownership in Charter to consolidate the cable industry, discussed the estimate when he, along with Chief Executive Greg Maffei, met with large Time Warner Cable shareholders in Denver last week, the people said.

Synergies from a combination - including reductions in capital spending, annual programming costs and other operating expenses - are key consideration for Time Warner Cable shareholders, as any takeover offer from Charter would include a large amount of its own stock.

However, Time Warner Cable, the subject of a months-long pursuit by Liberty and Charter, thinks any synergies from a merger would be much lower, at close to $500 million, other people familiar with the matter said.

The timing of Charter's expected cash and stock bid remains unclear, but it may be pushed into the new year given the upcoming holidays, people familiar with the matter said.

All the people asked not to be named because they were not authorized to speak with the media. Representatives for Liberty, Charter and Time Warner Cable declined to comment.

(Reporting by Soyoung Kim and Liana Baker in New York)

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