NEW YORK (AP) -- Cable TV operator Charter Communications wants to buy the much larger Time Warner Cable in a cash-and-stock deal that could be worth up to $38 billion.

The company says it is prepared to bring the offer directly to shareholders after determining there is "no genuine intent" from Time Warner Cable's management to engage in merger talks.

Charter Communications said Monday that it has made repeated overtures to Time Warner Cable for more than six months. In December, Charter was planning an offer below $135 per share, including $83-per-share in cash. That values Time Warner at up to $38 billion.

In a letter to Time Warner Cable CEO Robert Marcus that was posted online Monday, Charter chief Thomas Rutledge said he "communicated a willingness to submit a revised proposal in the low $130s," including the cash component.

But instead of engaging in discussions, Rutledge wrote that Time Warner "came back with a verbal offer at an unrealistic price expectation."

Time Warner Cable did not have an immediate comment. Marcus took over as Time Warner Cable's CEO on Jan. 1. He told an investor conference last month that the company's current debt level is "prudent," even as other cable TV companies are reportedly examining adding debt to acquire it. His comments suggested that it would be difficult for Charter to come up with an attractive offer to buy the company.


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Consolidation talk has percolated throughout the cable TV world ever since billionaire John Malone's Liberty Media took a 27 percent stake in Charter for $2.6 billion in May. TV distributors are seen banding together to gain more leverage at the bargaining table against media companies that are driving up fees for their TV networks.

Time Warner Cable, in particular, suffered from a bruising monthlong blackout in a fee dispute with CBS Corp. in August. It lost more than 300,000 video subscribers in the third quarter.

Time Warner Cable's stock closed at $132.40 on Monday and rose 1.6 percent to $134.45 in after-hours trading. Shares have risen 35 percent over the past 12 months.

Charter's shares added 1.7 percent to $136.50 in extended trading. They have gained 71 percent over the past year and closed at $134.22 Monday.