21st Century Fox said today that it made a formal proposal last month to combine with Time Warner, but that Time Warner’s board rebuffed it and there aren’t any current discussions between the two companies.
The statement from Rupert Murdoch’s film and TV arm came after the New York Times DealBook reported that Murdoch and his bankers proposed a takeover worth $80 billion to Time Warner, the media giant behind HBO, CNN, TBS and TNT. The offer price was a roughly a 25% premium to where Time Warner stock was trading at the time. (In pre-market trading, Time Warner stock has surged by about 19% this morning).
According to the report, Murdoch is “determined to buy Time Warner and is unlikely to walk away.” Time Warner did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Rumors about this deal surfaced last month when an analyst at Janney Capital Markets, Tony Wible, floated the idea. “However improbable it may seem, one cannot overlook this mega deal given its immense financial benefits that dovetail with a number of strategic benefits like the added sports rights, studio market share, TV production synergies, large content library, news programing synergies, distribution savings, and brand compatibility,” he wrote in a research note.
Currently pay TV is undergoing a wave of consolidation—Comcast is buying Time Warner Cable, AT&T is buying DirecTV—which is designed to give these distributors more scale in negotiations with content owners to drive down programming costs. By bulking up even more on the content side through a Time Warner deal, Fox could hope to maintain its strong position in negotiations with distributors over the prices for its content.
The Times reported that Fox would have been prepared to let go of Time Warner’s CNN in order to avoid any antitrust concerns about a merged company owning multiple US cable news networks, since Fox already owns Fox News Channel. Here’s a look at what the two companies more broadly would bring to any combination.
Time Warner’s assets include:
- Turner Broadcasting System: Adult Swim, Boomerang, Cartoon Network, CNN, HLN, TBS, TCM, TheSmokingGun.com,TNT, truTV, Turner Sports
- HBO: HBO, Cinemax
- Warner Bros Entertainment: Warner Home Video, Warner Bros. Advanced Digital Services, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Warner Bros. Technical Operations, Warner Bros. Warner Bros. Pictures, Warner Bros. Pictures International, New Line Cinema. Warner Bros. Television Group, Warner Bros. Television, Telepictures Productions, Warner Horizon Television, Warner Bros. Animation, Warner Bros. Domestic Television Distribution, Warner Bros. International Television Distribution, Warner Bros. International Television Production, Warner Bros. International Branded Services, Studio 2.0, The CW Television Network
21st Century Fox’s assets include:
- Cable Networks: Fox, Big Ten Networks, Fox Business News, Fox Deportes, Fox News Channel, Fox International Channels, Fox Sports 1, Fox Sports Networks, FX, National Geographic Channel, Star India, YES Network
- Filmed Entertainment: Twentieth Century Fox, Twentieth Century Fox Television, Fox 2000, Fox 21, Fox Animation & Blue Sky Studios, Fox Home Entertainment, Fox International Productions, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Fox Television Studios, Shine Group
- Television: Fox Broadcasting Network, Fox Sports, Fox Television Stations Group, My Network TV
- Direct Broadcast and Satellite TV: BSkyB, Sky Deutschland, Sky Italia