Belfast Telegraph

Fox withdraws $75bn bid for Time Warner over talks snub

By Mark McSherry

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has withdrawn its $75bn proposal to buy Time Warner because the rival company "refused to engage with us."

"We viewed a combination with Time Warner as a unique opportunity to bring together two great companies, each with celebrated content and brands," said Mr Murdoch.

"Our proposal had significant strategic merit and compelling financial rationale and our approach had always been friendly.

"However, Time Warner management and its board refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling."

Mr Murdoch added that a fall in 21st Century Fox's share price since its cash-and-stock takeover proposal for Time Warner was confirmed last month undervalued Fox stock and made the transaction unattractive to Fox shareholders.

"These factors, coupled with our commitment to be both disciplined in our approach to the combination and focused on delivering value for the Fox shareholders, has led us to withdraw our offer."

21st Century Fox shares jumped around 7% in after hours trading yesterday after the news that Murdoch had dropped the bid, while Time Warner shares fell 9%.

Brett Harriss, analyst with Gabelli & Co, a fund management firm with expertise in the media, told Reuters he did not believe this would be the end of the Time Warner-21st Century Fox merger speculation.

"This could easily be part of their negotiating strategy," he said, adding that Time Warner's management could be placed under pressure for not negotiating a better offer for shareholders.

21st Century Fox also said it now plans to buy back $6bn of its stock.

Mr Murdoch's approach had been interpreted as the beginning of another reshaping of the media industry, prompting a new spate of mega-mergers among America's entertainment giants.

He has built his global empire partly by pursuing daring deals that were often rejected at first by his targets, only for them to acquiese.

Together, Fox and Time Warner would be a force to be reckoned with in medica.

It would embrace television networks and channels like Fox, Fox News, FX, TNT and TBS, the premium subscription channel HBO, movie studios like Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Brothers and other high-profile outlets.

HBO, currently part of Time Warner, is about to start filming season five of the hit fantasy series Game of Thrones in Northern Ireland.

Game of Thrones has become the most watched programme in the history of HBO after outdoing even The Sopranos in popularity.

Belfast Telegraph