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HindustanTimes Thu,18 Sep 2014

Murdoch bids $80 billion for Time Warner, snubbed

Yashwant Raj , Hindustan Times  Washington, July 17, 2014
First Published: 00:02 IST(17/7/2014) | Last Updated: 00:04 IST(17/7/2014)

Time Warner on Wednesday rejected a $80-billion takeover bid from Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox. But the catch: most of Murdoch’s past conquests began with a rebuff.

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Time Warner said in a statement its board had rejected the offer because of “uncertainty” over Fox’s valuation and ability to run the resulting behemoth, and regulatory risks.

“The board is confident that continuing to execute its strategic plan will create significantly more value for the company and its stockholders,” the company said.

Time Warner owns CNN (which has a tie-up with India’s IBN), TNT, TBS and HBO. 21st Century Fox owns FX, Fox News and the Fox broadcast network (which owns Star India).

Though 21st Century Fox was willing to sell CNN to avoid any regulatory conflict with its own Fox News, talks never got that far, not yet at least.

But Murdoch is not prepared to give up yet.

He knows the game well, knows how to play it, as the Bancroft family, which sold him The Wall Street Journal in 2007 after turning him down repeatedly, will testify.

21st Century Fox first made the offer in June when its president Chase Carey met time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, reports said.

Despite the rejection, the acquisition effectively puts Time Warner in play —  speculation has been around about its sale for a while, with Google among the suitors.

Incidentally, US-based media corporation AOL completed its $164-billion acquisition of Time Warner in 2001, but it led to a $99-billion loss for the latter in 2002. Time Warner soon realised that the merger was not in its best interests and a demerger agreement came into effect in 2009.


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