Time Warner rebuffs $80bn Fox bid

July 17, 2014 - 5:50:14 am
Rupert Murdoch (left) with his son James at the Allen and Co media conference in Sun Valley, Idaho last week.

NEW YORK: Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox Inc said yesterday it had offered to buy Time Warner Inc, a move that would unite two of the world’s most powerful media conglomerates, but Time Warner rebuffed its offer.

Time Warner’s stock jumped 17.3 percent to $83.33 on the New York Stock Exchange after news that Murdoch had his sights on Time Warner, the owner of the Warner Bros. movie studio and cable channels such as HBO and CNN, among other media  properties.

Murdoch’s cash-and-stock bid was worth about $80bn, or $85 per share, people familiar with the matter said. The offer, first reported by The New York Times, consisted of 60 percent in stock and the rest in cash.

Twenty-First Century Fox later confirmed it had made a formal takeover proposal in June but said there were no talks currently under way.

Even so, Murdoch and his advisers are unlikely to abandon his ambition to put Time Warner in his empire so easily, one of the people said, pointing out that he has the “disciplined determination” to get a deal done.

Fox’s overtures to Time Warner could accelerate a wave of consolidation that is already reshaping the US media landscape.

There were reports that Murdoch was in the midst of a deal that would give Fox the firepower to buy a content company.

Fox, which owns cable news channel Fox News as well as movie studio 20th Century Fox, has indicated it would sell CNN as part of its proposal to buy Time Warner to clear any regulatory hurdles, according to the people familiar with the matter.

“(It) would be good deal for Fox if it goes through Washington (regulators) with CNN sales,” Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan said. He said the “fair public value” for Time Warner was $82 a share.

Fox currently estimates that a combined company would save $1bn in costs and possibly more, primarily by cutting sales staff and back-office functions, the people familiar with the matter said. It believes that detailed negotiations with Time Warner could reveal much higher synergies than $1bn, which may justify Fox sweetening its offer.

The combined company’s revenue would be more than $60bn.

Twenty-First Century Fox is in the middle of a reorganisation of its television business as the network seeks to lift itself out of last place among the big US broadcasters. Reuters

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