AT&T seeks to buy Time Warner for nearly $86bn

Oct 28, 2016, 05:37

NK UK, London [U.K.], October 23: Telecom giant AT and T has agreed to pay Dollars 85 billion to buy media powerhouse Time Warner and create one of the world's largest media, TV and telecom firms.

It pairs AT&T's wireless and TV subscriber base with Time Warner's library of entertainment and media properties, which include cable TV channels HBO, CNN and the Warner Bros film studio.

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump promised on Saturday to foil a proposed deal for AT&T Inc to buy Time Warner Inc if he wins the November 8 election, arguing it was an example of a "power structure" rigged against both him and voters.

In a speech in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, Trump said it would give the combined company "too much concentration of power".

"This is a flawless match of two companies with complementary strengths who can bring a fresh approach to how the media and communications industry works for customers, content creators, distributors and advertisers", said AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, who will head the new company, in a statement. Jeff Bewkes, Chief Executive of Time Warner, is expected to remain with the company as an interim, as this will help ease the transition. Last year, it paid about $49 billion to buy satellite TV service provider DirecTV, a deal that expanded its pay-TV market reach nationwide. Conversely, regulators will want to ensure that DirecTV, easily the dominant player in pay TV, doesn't unfairly favour Time Warner content or crowd out alternatives.

AT&T-Time Warner is a union of programming and distribution.

AT&T will pay $110 per Time Warner share, half in cash and half in stock, worth about $85 billion overall, sources told Reuters. The deal's total value is $108.7 billion after including Time Warner's net debt.

The new AT&T deal comes during a period of consolidation. He said that they believe the cable giant is a leader in premium content. Andre Barlow, an antitrust expert with the law firm Doyle, Barlow and Mazard PLLC, noted that the government may worry about whether other cable and internet companies would continue to have access to Time Warner content like HBO and CNN.

The discussions come two years after Time Warner warded off a hostile takeover bid from Rupert Murdoch and his sons at 21st Century Fox.

AT&T has pursued an aggressive expansion, paying nearly $50 billion to buy satellite television provider DirecTV in 2015.

"If Time Warner and its management team were confident in the future of the media sector, particularly the cable network industry, they would not be selling now", he added. Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal took more than a year to pass muster with the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission.

Time Warner's older major deal in 2001 - where it sold itself to AOL at the peak of the dot-com boom - has been considered a big disaster by analysts.

AT&T (T, Tech30), which dates back to the invention of the telephone in 1876, is one of the country's largest providers of wireless phone and Internet service.

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