CNN Parent Time Warner Will Sell to AT&T for $85 Billion

By Chris Ariens 

In a video message to employees sent just after 8 p.m. ET tonight, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes announced the company was selling to AT&T for $107.50 per share, or about $85.4 billion.

“As you all know over the past several years, we’ve focused our company on the growing demand for high quality video all over the world,” Bewkes said. “With AT&T we’re bringing together all our great television, films, games and content and we’re aligning it with their direct-to-consumer television including DirecTV and broadband across the United States and Latin America.”

Time Warner brands include Turner networks CNN, HLN, TruTV, TNT, TBS and Cartoon Network, as well as premium channel HBO, and the Warner Bros. film and TV studio.

Bewkes acknowledged the rapid changes in the way consumers watch content, through over the top platforms, brought urgency to the deal. “Joining forces with AT&T gets us and them there faster and better than either of us could do on our own,” he said.

“The driving force,” said Bewkes, “is not cost savings it’s growth opportunity.”

Speaking directly to employees, Bewkes said AT&T is “very committed to retaining all the talented people who have made us the best in the industry.” Time Warner has approximately 24,800 employees worldwide.

If it surpasses federal scrutiny, the deal could close in about a year. Bewkes says he intends to stay on “as CEO of Time Warner’s business, which will become a subsidiary of AT&T.”

Bewkes rebuffed an $80 billion takeover offer from Rupert Murdoch‘s 21st Century Fox two years ago.