Cox Communications Inc., the third- largest U.S. cable provider, has held talks about combining with rival Charter Communications Inc., according to two people with knowledge of the matter.

Cox president Pat Esser has discussed a deal with representatives from Liberty Media Corp., which owns a 27 percent stake in Charter, said one of the people, who asked not to be named because the negotiations are private. The structure of a potential deal hasn’t been determined, including which company might be the acquirer, the other person said.

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