AT&T in advanced talks to buy Time Warner for over $90 billion
Telecom giant AT&T is in advanced talks to acquire entertainment group Time Warner to add in-house content to distribution services, a banking source familiar with the negotiations said Friday.
A deal possibly worth more than $90 billion could be announced as soon as Monday, the source told AFP, confirming a report in The Wall Street Journal.
AT&T is the second-largest US wireless carrier and third-largest cable TV provider in the United States, while Time Warner controls a valuable stable of entertainment content suppliers, including Warner Bros. film and TV studios, the HBO television production group, cable news giant CNN, and the TNT and TBS cable channels.
The two parties have reached agreement on many important points, but key outstanding issues include the exact price and a breakup fee should antitrust regulators balk at the transaction, the source said.
A deal could likely price Time Warner at $110 per share, or around $90 million, the person said.
The deal would be structured in cash and stock, but there is a chance other prospective acquirers could step forward, the source added.
A union of the two media giants, together worth more than $300 billion in market value, would be sure to face tough scrutiny from US antitrust regulators because of the ripple effects across media platforms.
Analysts believe the transaction also could spark other big deals involving large media companies.
The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Apple had approached Time Warner about a possible deal a few months ago, but the talks did not progress. Apple is continuing to monitor the negotiations, the newspaper said.
The negotiations come amid challenges to media companies due to the decline of conventional cable television as more consumers turn to streaming on mobile technology.
AT&T had $147 billion in revenues in 2015 while Time Warner reported $28 billion.
AT&T has pursued an aggressive expansion, paying almost $50 billion to buy satellite television provider DirectTV in 2015.
Time Warner shares soared 7.8% Friday following reports of the talks. It was up another 4.9% in afterhours trade on fresh reports suggesting that the two sides were even closer to a deal.
AT&T dropped 3.0% during regular-hours trading Friday, and fell another 0.7% in after-hours trade.