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Charter in talks with Time Warner Cable over bid likely above $170 per share: WSJ

A customer leaves a Time Warner Cable store in Palm Springs, California January 29, 2014. REUTERS/Sam Mircovich

(Reuters) - Charter Communications (CHTR.O) is in talks with Time Warner Cable (TWC.N) about a bid that is likely to be well above the $170 per share expected by some analysts, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing people familiar with the matter.

Charter had bid about $132.50 per share, or $37.3 billion, for Time Warner Cable last year before being beaten by Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O), whose all-stock deal was initially worth $158.82 per share.

Comcast abandoned its $45 billion offer for Time Warner Cable last month after U.S. regulators raised concerns the deal would have given Comcast an unfair advantage in the cable TV and Internet-based services market.

TWC declined to comment, while Charter had no comment on the report. (http://on.wsj.com/1ejx9SJ)

European telecoms group Altice (ATCE.AS) has also approached Time Warner Cable over a deal, sources told Reuters, creating a potential bidding war with John Malone's Charter Communications.

A source close to the matter said the meeting between TWC and Altice took place on Wednesday.

In a separate report, the Wall Street Journal said U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler reached out to the chief executives of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications to convey that the agency is not opposed to any and all cable deals.

Wheeler told the CEOs that any deal would be assessed on its own merits, the newspaper said, citing people familiar with the matter. (http://on.wsj.com/1K6IEqx)

The calls were in response to recent statements from cable executives "who have expressed uncertainty about the regulatory climate for future cable deals", the Journal said.

Wheeler saw some of the statements as a "significant over-reading" of the FCC staff's stance on the Comcast-Time Warner Cable deal, the newspaper said.

No specific deals were discussed in the conversations, according to the Journal.

An FCC spokeswoman declined to comment.

(Reporting by Rama Venkat Raman, Subrat Patnaik, and Alina Selyukh in Bengaluru and Liana B. Baker in New York; Editing by Ken Wills)