Murdoch makes bid for Time Warner

BOLD BID: The bid by Mr Murdoch (left) for Time Warner - which is led by Mr Bewkes - could result in the biggest media deal in more than a decade.


    Jul 18, 2014

    Murdoch makes bid for Time Warner


    IF CONTENT is still king in a media business challenged by new technologies and nimble upstarts, Rupert Murdoch hungers to wear the crown.

    His biggest and boldest bid yet emerged on Wednesday: an US$80 billion (S$99 billion) takeover offer for Time Warner, which would be the biggest media deal in more than a decade.

    While Time Warner has rebuffed his effort and no talks are under way, Mr Murdoch is determined and unlikely to walk away any time soon, sources said.

    And he has a track record of pursuing companies that first said no before giving in.

    His pursuit is likely to set off a wave of takeover battles elsewhere in the industry as others race to keep up.

    By bidding for Time Warner, Mr Murdoch's 21st Century Fox is seeking to create a colossus in the television and film industries at a time when both face pressure from the growing power of cable companies like Comcast and online video giants like Google.

    Jeffrey Bewkes, who is 62, is in some ways the opposite of Mr Murdoch, 83, in temperament and philosophy.

    Since taking the helm of Time Warner six years ago, Mr Bewkes has shed the media conglomerate's trappings of empire, spinning off AOL, the cable business and the legacy print publications that once defined the company. However, focusing on Time Warner's core entertainment offerings left it vulnerable to a takeover approach by 21st Century Fox.

    Combining 21st Century Fox and Time Warner would bring under one roof some of the biggest sources of content: HBO, one of the most lucrative cable channels, Fox Broadcasting and the movie studios Warner Bros and 20th Century Fox.

    It would unite Game Of Thrones and televising Nascar, as well as The Lord Of The Rings and Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes. But it would not include CNN, which Fox plans to sell to allay concerns from antitrust regulators.

    Recalling the swashbuckling empire-building of the 1980s, the bid for Time Warner is the largest yet in a year full of big mergers. Both Comcast and AT&T are pursuing enormous takeovers aimed at giving them more heft in fee negotiations with the likes of 21st Century Fox, Time Warner, Viacom and CBS.

    Looming large over these potential deals is the threat from Silicon Valley. Internet giants like Google, Amazon and Netflix are pouring resources into original content and developing the next-generation television companies.

    Analysts have predicted that content producers would need to fight back by merging.

    "In our view, the media industry in recent months has felt like a tinderbox waiting for the match to strike," David Bank, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said in a research note on Wednesday.