Rupert Murdoch's media empire 21st Century Fox made an $80 billion takeover bid last month for Time Warner Inc. but was rebuffed, The New York Times reports.
"21st Century Fox can confirm that we made a formal proposal to Time Warner last month to combine the two companies," the company said in a statement released today. "The Time Warner Board of Directors declined to pursue our proposal. We are not currently in any discussions with Time Warner."
"As part of the proposal to buy Time Warner, people briefed on the proposal said, 21st Century Fox indicated that it would sell CNN to head off potential antitrust concerns since Fox News competes directly with CNN," reports The New York Times. CBS and ABC are viewed as suitors in this scenario, which could spark a bidding war.
21st Century Fox originally approached Time Warner in early June, in a private meeting between 21st Century Fox president Chase Carey and Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes, and delivered a formal takeover proposal later in the month, according to The New York Time's sources. According to the same sources, Time Warner's board "discuess the proposal at length" before deciding that Time Warner was better off remaining independent and delivered "a terse letter rejecting the offer" early this month. One of the main points of contention was that "the stock portion of 21st Century Fox's offer would be made with nonvoting shares."
While 21st Century Fox claims to not be in discussions with Time Warner at the moment, "people involved in the discussions" told The New York Times "Mr. Murdoch is determined to buy Time Warner and is unlikely to walk away." That publication points out that Murdoch's empire was built largely by pursuing ambitious deals that were originally rebuffed.
Together, 21st Century Fox and Time Warner would have a combined revenue of $65 billion. Its array of networks and channels would include HBO, Fox, Fox News, FX, TBS and TNT; movie studios 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers; and Time Warner's rights to NBA and NCAA basketball and MLB baseball. Time Warner shares were up 20 percent in premarket trading this morning following the news.