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Third Point continues buying Campbell shares in Q4, exits Alibaba holding

Fiber Route Mile Leaderboard

M&A: A New Year Resolution For The South Korean Multichannel Market?

Global Multichannel Market Up 3.1% In 2018 As IPTV Subscriptions Overtook Direct To Home Platform

A New Era For Blockbuster Bank M&A


Third Point continues buying Campbell shares in Q4, exits Alibaba holding

Third Point LLC increased its holding of Campbell Soup Co. shares in the fourth quarter of 2018, though at a slower rate than during the previous quarter, according to a filing with the SEC.

The New York-based hedge fund upped the number of shares it owns in the food company by nearly 17% to 21 million, according to the filling, which reported Third Point's ownership as of Dec. 31, 2018. The stake, worth $692.8 million as of Dec. 31, accounted for just under 7% of outstanding common shares, according to S&P Global Market Intelligence.

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The increase was not as dramatic as the 224% jump in ownership of Campbell shares that Third Point reported for the third quarter, when it was leading an activist campaign at the maker of Pace salsa and Pepperidge Farm cookies. During the fourth quarter, Campbell agreed to seat two of Third Point's nominees on its board of directors and give the hedge fund's representatives opportunities to present proposed strategies to the Camden, N.J.-based company's management.

Third Point also decreased its stake in beverage maker Constellation Brands Inc. 27% to nearly 1.8 million shares during the fourth quarter. Worth $281.4 million as of Dec. 31, the stake now represents 0.9% of outstanding common shares in the company, according to Market Intelligence.

The fund's stake in auction house Sotheby's, meanwhile, remained unchanged from the third quarter at about 6.7 million shares — 14.4% of common shares outstanding — worth $264.7 million as of Dec. 31.

Third Point eliminated its stakes in three consumer companies during the quarter: Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., home builder Lennar Corp. and Brazilian software maker Arco Platform Ltd.

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In total, the dollar value of Third Point's holdings in the consumer sector declined 49% during the quarter.

Consumer companies constituted the fund's third-largest holding by dollar value at the end of the fourth quarter, accounting for $1.24 billion. Third Point ended the quarter with larger holdings in healthcare, worth $2.58 billion, as well as financials, which were worth $1.41 billion.

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Fiber Route Mile Leaderboard

Highlights

Our analysis of fiber networks held by U.S.-based companies found telcos in control of the three largest fiber networks.

Verizon has been the fastest-growing network over the past two years by fiber route miles, adding nearly 200,000 to end 2018 with more than 1 million globally.

Mar. 04 2019 — Optical fiber, long the backbone for broadband internet, will soon take on additional workload in the form of data backhaul for 5G wireless traffic. That has spurred the two fiber titans among U.S.-based companies to build out even further.

Our analysis of fiber networks held by U.S.-based companies found telcos in control of the three largest fiber networks. AT&T Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. alone combine for more than 2.2 million route miles, more than half of the total in our survey of publicly available data.

Verizon is jockeying with AT&T to lead the 5G charge in the U.S.

Third on our list is CenturyLink Inc., which nearly doubled its fiber route miles in 2017 with the acquisition of Level 3 as it sharpened its focus on large-scale business functions.

Broadband and multichannel providers Charter Communications Inc., Frontier Communications Corp., Windstream Communications, Inc. and Comcast Corp., take up spots four through seven on our list. Their publicly available data on fiber route miles has been relatively static in recent years, perhaps because they are not under pressure to deliver next-generation wireless networks.

Our analysis is based on recent company filings or data found on corporate websites and is, consequently, an incomplete picture.

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Technology, Media & Telecom
M&A: A New Year Resolution For The South Korean Multichannel Market?

Feb. 25 2019 — The South Korean multichannel market should see a year of upheaval as the three incumbent telcos look to acquire some of their cable competitors to accelerate growth in 2019. LG U+ is already in discussion with CJ Hello while KT Corp. considers acquiring D'Live through its direct-to-home arm KT Skylife. Likewise, SK Broadband expressed interest in acquiring both t-broad Holdings Co. Ltd. and D'Live.

This is not the first time a telco has proposed a cable MSO acquisition in South Korea. SKB's proposed merger with CJ Hello in 2015 was banned by the South Korean Fair Trade Commission, which prohibits any operator from monopolizing the multichannel market with subscribers over one-third of the total subscriber base. Should the government have no intention of modifying the existing rule, KT would fail to acquire any other operator while SKB's plan to boost subscriber share to 30% would unlikely be approved. Given its relatively small subscriber base, LG U+ stands the highest chance of success from a regulatory perspective if it were to acquire any of the cable MSOs.

Cable has been the dominant multichannel platform in terms of subscriber share in the market and yet IPTV is expected to take over from 2019. As of December 2018, Kagan estimated cable and IPTV made up 43.8% and 42.9% of the total multichannel households, respectively. By the end of 2019, IPTV's share is expected to reach 45.3% as cable's share drops to 41.9%.

Ever since the launch of IPTV in 2008, telco-owned IPTV operators have successfully gained traction in building their respective subscriber bases. A key factor has been the bundling of IPTV with the telcos' data, fixed voice and/or mobile services at affordable prices. Therefore, many of the cable TV subscribers are willing to take IPTV as a secondary multichannel connection. This also explains why the market has maintained a multichannel penetration rate of over 100%. As of year-end 2018, the market's multichannel penetration was estimated at 167% and is expected to reach 177% by 2023.

In terms of subscriber share, KT is currently dominating the market with its IPTV service branded Olleh TV and DTH-services branded KT SkyLife and Olleh TV SkyLife. KT's subscriber share as of June 2018 was 31.07%, followed by SKB with 13.8%, CJ Hello with 12.83% and LG U+ with 11.49%. The potential tie-up of LG U+ and CJ Hello would secure about a quarter of the market's subscribers, superseding SKB's existing share and posing a threat to KT's long-term dominance.

In response to the potential threat, KT is considering the acquisition of D'Live, the third-largest cable MSO with 2.4 million subscribers as of June 2018. SKB, on the other hand, is interested in buying both cable MSOs Tbroad and D'Live to secure a subscriber share of over 30%. The telcos aim to quickly boost and retain their subscriber bases and hope to accelerate revenue growth in the long run through the potential M&A deals.

Low average revenue per user has always been a challenge to South Korean multichannel operators, especially cable MSOs, which can hardly raise the price due to churn concerns. As of December 2018, IPTV's average blended ARPU was $15.15 per month while cable's average blended ARPU of both analog and digital was significantly lower at $8.69 per month. Cable operators had a hard time fulfilling their digitization commitments while not shifting the cost to subscribers and facing significant churns for six years until 2016. Merging with one of the telcos could be a surviving opportunity for operators of the declining platform.

The potential wave of M&A would consolidate the market into fewer players. The telcos would secure a bigger subscriber share and further dominate the market while the remaining cable operators would find it even harder to stay relevant. Yet it is uncertain if the growth of the country's multichannel subscriptions can be sustained. Many multichannel households that currently have both cable and IPTV connections would likely cancel cable service if it were offered by the same company, and the cable platform would further shrink as a result.

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Global Multichannel Market Up 3.1% In 2018 As IPTV Subscriptions Overtook Direct To Home Platform

Highlights

With year-over-year growth of 14.3%, IPTV was the fastest-growing of the three major pay TV platforms in 2018

Number of multichannel subscribers worldwide is modelled to grow at a 2.4% CAGR over the next five years from 1.07 billion in 2018 to 1.21 billion in 2023.

Global multichannel economy generated $230.06 billion in video service revenues in 2018, which are projected to increase to $245.41 by 2023.

Feb. 18 2019 — In 2018, IPTV overtook direct-to-home as the second-largest multichannel platform in the world by subscribers after cable, accounting for 23.4% of the total market of 1.07 billion. With year-over-year growth of 14.3%, IPTV was the fastest-growing platform in 2018, driven by large subscriber additions in Asia-Pacific and, to a lesser extent, Western Europe. Over the next five years, IPTV is projected to post a 7% subscriber CAGR, second only to pay digital terrestrial television with a projected 8.5% five-year CAGR.

While cable remains the dominant multichannel platform globally, cable subs are modeled to continue declining over the next five years at a 0.3% CAGR, largely due to migration to IPTV in Asia and Western Europe.

China, India and the USA remain, by far, the largest multichannel markets, collectively claiming 57% of the global subscriber total in 2018. China and India alone are expected to account for half of the global market by 2023.

The global multichannel economy generated $230.06 billion in video service revenues in 2018, a 1.1% year-over-year increase, while multichannel penetration breached 60% by year-end. North America remains the most lucrative multichannel region accounting for over half of global revenue.

The effects of cord cutting are only observed in North America where multichannel subscribers, revenue and penetration are projected to decline in the foreseeable future, as well as in a handful of oversaturated markets, including Singapore and Hong Kong. In Europe, the biggest threat to traditional multichannel services is posed by free-to-air DTT and lies in the integration of over-the-top and catch-up TV services into DTT platforms as well as the ability to stream channel packages via hybrid boxes.

Global multichannel market overview

Kagan estimates that in 2018, the global multichannel market grew by 3.1% year over year, down from 3.9% in 2017, as rapid subscriber growth is slowing down in China. After the global multichannel market breached 1 billion subscribers in 2017, 32.3 million new homes adopted pay TV services in 2018 to reach 1.07 billion multichannel homes by year-end. We project that the global multichannel household growth will continue to decelerate in the foreseeable future with most markets across Europe, North America and advanced multichannel markets of the Asia-Pacific reaching saturation. The global market is forecast to post 2.7% year-over-year gains in 2019 with a 2.4% 2018-2023 CAGR.

Global multichannel video subscriptions are forecast to increase to 1.21 billion by 2023, adding 136.3 million net subs over a five-year period, while multichannel penetration is forecast to increase to 61.2% in the next five years, up from 60.1% in 2018.

Global multichannel subscribers by platform

While cable TV is expected to remain the largest platform on a global scale in the next five years, its share is forecast to decline from 52.3% in 2018 to 45.8% by 2023, largely due to analog subscriber churn and market share gains by IPTV operators. IPTV, the fastest-growing of the three major pay TV platforms, is modeled to capture a 23.2% market share by 2023.

Global multichannel revenue

The global multichannel economy generated $230.06 billion in video service revenues in 2018, a 1.1% year-over-year increase, with more than half earned by North American pay TV providers. The region's pay TV operators, however, lost 2.4% revenue year over year due to steep subscriber declines, despite growing average revenues per user. Western Europe remained the second-largest multichannel economy, accounting for only 17.7% of the global total in 2018. Latin American multichannel revenues expressed in U.S. dollars declined in 2018, mainly due to exchange rate fluctuations in most of the region's markets.

Given its comparatively high video service ARPUs, North America is expected to remain the most lucrative multichannel economy in the coming five years, despite being only the third-largest by subscribers and experiencing subscriber declines. The region is modeled to account for 43.2% of global video service revenues by 2023. Despite having the lowest multichannel ARPUs among the six regions analyzed, Asia is projected to overtake Western Europe as the second-largest multichannel economy by 2023, due to the sheer size of its market accounting for 18.8% of global multichannel revenue.

IPTV remains the fastest-growing multichannel platform, except in North America and the Middle East and Africa, where increasing pay DTT rollouts are driving revenue growth. Pay DTT is the only platform in Western Europe that is losing revenues, largely due to falling ARPUs. Although cable experienced overall subscriber declines in Western Europe and Asia in 2018, revenues increased on the back of digital subscriber and ARPU gains.

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Global Multichannel Market Up 3.1% in 2018 as IPTV Subscriptions Overtook Direct-To-Home Platform

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Global multichannel market up 3.1% in 2018 as IPTV subscriptions overtake DTH

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A New Era For Blockbuster Bank M&A

Feb. 08 2019 — The days of large bank acquirers pursuing deals to plant a flag in a new market might be receding as more buyers see transactions as a way to support much needed investments in technology.

In the latest Street Talk podcast, we discuss how BB&T Corp. touted that prospect when announcing its merger with SunTrust Banks Inc. and talk about the implications for future big-ticket transactions.

BB&T said the deal, one of the largest in U.S. banking history, will create a premier financial institution fueled by increased capacity to invest in innovation and talent. That stands in stark contrast to other blockbuster deals announced before the financial crisis, when buyers sought to create financial supermarkets or extend their footprints to new markets.

The size of BB&T's landmark transaction might have caught some members of the investment community off guard since Chairman and CEO Kelly King suggested the company was focused on organic growth and internal initiatives to drive costs lower. Still, while the merger of equals, the largest in BB&T's history, might have come as a surprise, it is part of a small group of large deals that received applause from the Street. The projected tangible book value accretion certainly played a role, but King also emphasized that the expansion would allow BB&T to achieve its previously stated goal of investing in technology to meet growing client demands.

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"We'll transform platforms to drive out cost, that's important, supporting a more technologically enabled business. And we will gain incremental efficiencies through automation by enabling faster, smarter and more secure way of doing business," King said on a call to discuss the deal.

Investment bankers have suggested others could follow BB&T's move and use cost savings from transactions to upgrade technological offerings. Some advisers even predicted an increase in larger deals before the BB&T/SunTrust transaction surfaced, arguing that regional banks needed to play catch up with the nation's largest institutions and upgrade technology and digital channels to keep their clients happy.

For his part, King emphasized that the world has changed considerably, even in just the last 12 months. King echoed comments made during BB&T's investor day in November 2018, when the company rolled out a new initiative, dubbed "Disrupt or Die," focused on improving efficiency while investing in delivery platforms.

"We talked about disrupt to thrive. And this is it, this is kind of the ultimate disrupt to thrive," King said on the SunTrust call.

That theme has recently become more common in larger bank deals. Chemical Financial Corp. and TCF Financial Corp., for instance, highlighted the opportunity to invest in technology as a combined franchise when discussing their $3.55 billion MOE announced a few weeks ago. The companies said the deal would allow them to invest and innovate more efficiently, enhance customer-facing digital service offerings and streamline internal systems and processes.

WSFS Financial Corp. offered a similar assessment when announcing plans to buy Beneficial Bancorp Inc. for $1.5 billion in August 2018. While WSFS took heat for the price paid on the deal, the buyer outlined plans to use some expected cost savings to invest in digital channels and shrink its branch network considerably.

"This combination allows us to economically address the question in every bank's boardroom," WSFS Chairman Mark Turner said on the call. "That is, how and when are we going to adjust to the new realities of banking delivery to meet the changing customer behavior and their needs."

The Street seems to think it makes sense to spend on technology to play offense. Jeff Davis, managing director at Mercer Capital and a S&P Global Market Intelligence contributor, said in a recent blog post that scale might be required to protect existing returns in the face of improving technology. He said the Amazon effect could apply to deposit pricing as "informed depositors with mobile technology" could force increased competition. Davis said the same thing occurred in the asset management business, where cost-conscious investors utilized widely available information and easy-to-use technology to upend the industry's pricing model.

BB&T seems to recognize the threat of fintech and other technology providers creeping into its space. As King noted on the conference call to discuss the SunTrust merger, he wants to get ahead of that sea change and lead rather than follow.

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