Time Warner shares surged on Friday after the Wall Street Journal reported the media giant may agree to a takeover by AT&T this weekend.
Time Warner shares jumped as much as 11pc, while AT&T fell as much as 3.3pc. Bloomberg reported on Thursday that executives of both companies had met in recent weeks to discuss business combinations including a potential merger, according to people familiar with the matter. The WSJ said the talks are in an advanced stage.
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is a willing seller if he gets an offer he thinks is fair, said one of the people. Bewkes and his board rejected an $85-a-share approach in 2014 from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox, which valued Time Warner at more than $75bn.
AT&T has transformed itself over the past decade from a regional phone company to a national telecommunications powerhouse. Its plan to focus on media and entertainment targets include companies worth $2bn to $50bn, people familiar with the plans said earlier this month.
"There's a lot that's attractive about Time Warner," media industry veteran Peter Chernin, who runs an online video joint venture with AT&T, said in an interview Thursday on CNBC. "I think they're both great companies." He said he didn't know anything about a deal.
Representatives for AT&T and Time Warner declined to comment.
Last year, AT&T paid $48.5 billion to acquire satellite-TV provider DirecTV, its biggest deal in at least 10 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. AT&T has been developing an internet-based version of the pay-TV service, called DirecTV Now.