Murdoch is rebuffed in $80 billion offer for Time Warner

New York TimesJuly 16, 2014 

The media giant 21st Century Fox, the empire run by Rupert Murdoch, made an $80 billion takeover bid in recent weeks for Time Warner Inc. but was rebuffed.

The bold approach could put Time Warner in play and might again ignite a reshaping of the media industry, prompting a new spate of megamergers among the nation's largest entertainment companies.

Over nearly five decades, the 83-year-old dealmaker has built a global media juggernaut spanning studios, television channels and newspapers, in part, by pursuing bold deals that were often rebuffed at first by targets that would later acquiesce.

Time Warner on Wednesday confirmed it had rejected a cash and stock offer from 21st Century Fox, saying that it was not in the company's best interests. The Time Warner statement said its own strategic plan would "create significantly more value." It also pointed to regulatory risks in a merger and what it said was "uncertainty" over the value of nonvoting shares of 21st Century Fox. Unlike Time Warner, which has no controlling shareholder, 21st Century Fox is controlled by the Murdoch family, which has 39.4 percent of the voting rights of the Class B shares.

Time Warner said that 21st Century Fox had offered 1.531 of its Class A nonvoting common shares and $32.42 in cash for every Time Warner share -- or a total of nearly $86.30, a premium of roughly 22 percent to Time Warner's closing price Tuesday. Shares of Time Warner were up about 17 percent in midafternoon trading Wednesday.

Earlier Wednesday, 21st Century Fox also confirmed it had made a formal offer to Time Warner last month. "The Time Warner board of directors declined to pursue our proposal," the statement said. "We are not currently in any discussions with Time Warner."

Together, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner would become a colossus with an array of television networks and channels like Fox, Fox News, FX, TNT and TBS; the premium subscription channel HBO, movie studios like 20th Century Fox, Warner Bros. and other prominent outlets. It would also combine Fox's growing sports business with the broadcast rights that Time Warner owns.

The combined company would have total revenue of $65 billion.

As part of the proposal to buy Time Warner, people briefed on the proposal said, 21st Century Fox indicated it would sell CNN to head off potential antitrust concerns since Fox News competes directly with CNN.

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