Murdoch turns back on Time Warner

BY Matt Atkins

In an uncharacteristic move, Rupert Murdoch, the 81-year old chairman and CEO of Twenty-First Century Fox (Fox) has abandoned plans to buy Time Warner Inc for $80bn. A Fox statement has blamed Time Warner for the deal's implosion, saying the media giant "refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling".

A merger between the two would have created one of the world's largest media conglomerates, significantly altering the media landscape in the US. The acquisition offer was seen as a way for Fox to stay competitive as other industry players begin to accelerate their M&A strategies.

The deal, however, has not been popular among Fox shareholders ­– the firm's share price has declined by 11 percent since the potential deal was announced – and many suspect a desire to retain shareholder approval nixed the proposal. Investors sent shares soaring by over 7 percent after Fox authorised a $6bn share repurchase programme in the wake of the deal's failure.

On the other side of the transaction, shares in Time Warner dropped by more than 11 percent after news of the withdrawal was made known. The company's board remains defiant. "Time Warner's Board and management team are committed to enhancing long-term value and we look forward to continuing to deliver substantial and sustainable returns for all stockholders," said a Time Warner statement.

Mr Murdoch's decision to walk away has shocked many. The success of the merger would have proved a career-capping masterstroke on the part of the media mogul. “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 in a statement. "Our proposal had significant strategic merit and compelling financial rationale and our approach had always been friendly.”

However, whether the deal is firmly in the grave is up for debate. Some still suspect the decision to walk is part of an attempt to drive down Time Warner's stock, before a renewed takeover attempt at a future date.

Press Release: 21st Century Fox withdraws its proposal to acquire Time Warner Inc

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