Rupert Murdoch Makes $80B Bid for Time Warner

NEW YORK  — Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox said Wednesday that it made an offer to buy Time Warner last month.

Shares of Time Warner soared more than 15% in early trading Wednesday following the news.

A report first published in the New York Times revealed that Murdoch made a bid worth $85 a share in stock and cash in June.

The bid was rejected.

The offer is 20% higher than Time Warner’s stock on Tuesday. The two companies subsequently confirmed that an offer was made and turned down by Time Warner. But the Times report suggests that Murdoch is unlikely to drop his plans to take over Time Warner.

Time Warner said in a statement that the company is “confident that continuing to execute its strategic plan will create significantly more value” for shareholders than any proposal Fox could offer.

21st Century Fox added in a statement that it is “not currently in any discussions with Time Warner.”

Time Warner owns CNN and CNNMoney. Under terms of the bid, Fox would sell CNN to answer antitrust concerns.

The Times report mentioned ABC and ESPN owner Walt Disney Co. and CBS as possible suitors for CNN. Sources confirmed that to CNN’s Cristina Alesci as well.

The Times also reported that Fox COO Chase Carey (and not Murdoch) reportedly met with Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes to discuss the deal.

One of the reasons Time Warner cited for the rejection of the offer was that the cash and stock bid involved non-voting shares of 21st Century Fox. The Murdoch family controls the voting Fox shares.

If Fox is able to buy Time Warner, it would hang onto cable networks such as TBS, TNT and premium network HBO, as well as movie studio Warner Bros.

A deal would combine Time Warner’s media brands with the Fox broadcast network, the 21st Century Fox movie studio, and entertainment cable networks such as FX as well as Fox news and Fox Sports 1.

It would also give the company access to a number of sports rights deals that Time Warner now holds with the NBA, the NCAA basketball tournament and Major League Baseball.

Murdoch is said to have harbored an interest in Time Warner for some time. The possibility of an overture to Time Warner was first reported by Reuters on July 1, shortly before Murdoch, Bewkes and other media moguls met at the annual Sun Valley, Idaho media and technology conference sponsored by the investment bank Allen & Co.

Janney Montgomery Scott LLC media analyst Tony Wible identified reasons for a possible tie-up of 21st Century Fox and Time Warner in a report last month.

“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,” Wible wrote at the time.

“Any deal would have to cope with overlapping networks and would very likely face more regulatory scrutiny,” Wible added.

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