Sunday 15 December 2019

Murdoch rebuffed after $80bn bid for Time Warner

Rupert Murdoch
Rupert Murdoch

Patrick Edwards

Twenty-First Century Fox, the media empire run by Rupert Murdoch, made an $80bn (€59bn) takeover bid in recent weeks for Time Warner but was rebuffed, the 'New York Times' reported.

The Murdoch company offered to buy Time Warner for $85 per share in a cash-and-stock bid, the newspaper reported, adding that Mr Murdoch was determined to buy the company and was unlikely to walk away.

Time Warner shares jumped more than 13pc yesterday morning following the report. The company could not be immediately reached for comment.

As part of the proposal, Fox indicated that it would sell CNN to ward off potential antitrust concerns since Fox News competes directly with CNN.

Putting CNN on sale would probably lead to a bidding war for the news channel as CBS and ABC, a unit of the Walt Disney, have long been seen as interested suitors, the newspaper said.

Fox first approached Time Warner in early June. Chase Carey, the president of Fox and a long-time top lieutenant to Mr Murdoch, met privately with Time Warner's chief executive officer, Jeff Bewkes, the newspaper said. Later that month, Fox delivered a formal takeover proposal worth $85 in stock and cash for each Time Warner share.

Nathaniel Brown, a Fox spokesman in New York, declined to comment on the report.

The bold approach could be the beginning of another reshaping of the media industry, prompting a new spate of mega-mergers among America's entertainment giants.

Rupert Murdoch has built his global media empire over decades partly by pursuing bold deals that were often rebuffed at first by the targets of his 
overtures, only to later acquiesce.

Together, Fox and Time Warner would become a colossus with an array of television networks and channels like Fox, Fox News, FX, TNT and TBS; the premium subscription channel HBO, movie studios like Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Brothers and other high-profile outlets. It would also combine Fox's growing sports business with the broadcast rights that Time Warner owns for professional and college basketball among other sports.

The merged company would have annual sales of $65bn.

Time Warner's board discussed the proposal at length and sent a terse letter rejecting the offer earlier this month, saying that it was better off remaining independent.

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