Media titan Rupert Murdoch is on the hunt.
Murdoch-owned 21st Century Fox made an offer to acquire rival Time Warner in June, the company confirmed Wednesday.
But Time Warner declined the offer, Fox said in a statement. “We are not currently in any discussions with Time Warner,” the company said.
The unsolicited offer was reportedly worth $80 billion, according to the New York Times. In its formal offer letter, Fox offered $85 for each Time Warner share — 60% in stock and 40% in cash.
Although Time Warner rejected the offer, the company’s shares are up roughly 16% in pre-market trading as news of the proposed deal spills out.
If Fox and Time Warner merged, it would create a media behemoth with a total revenue of $65 billion. Time Warner cable channels like TNT, TBS, and the premium HBO would join Fox’s FX, Fox News, and the Fox broadcasting network. The joint entity would become the largest film and TV studio business, with Warner Bros. and Twentieth Century Fox operating under a single parent company. And Fox’s sports business would get access to Time Warner broadcast rights for professional and college basketball, Major League Baseball, and other sports.
A media merger of this size and scope could face some substantial antitrust scrutiny from regulators. To head off some of those concerns, Fox indicated it would sell off Time Warner-owned CNN, which competes directly with Fox News, according to people familiar with the matter.
This isn’t the first media mega-merger we’ve reported about this year: Comcast is currently in the process of acquiring Time Warner Cable, and AT&T has proposed a DirecTV takeover.
Fox believes the combined company would save as much as $1.5 billion annually between reductions in human resources, sales, IT operations, and other overlap, according to an anonymous source cited in Bloomberg.
But Time Warner decided, under the terms of Fox’s proposal, that it was better off on its own. The stock portion of the offer would be made using nonvoting shares, which proved unappealing to Time Warner, according to sources cited in the Times.
But despite Time Warner’s initial rejection, Murdoch is determined to buy Time Warner, said people familiar with the matter. It does not appear likely that he will walk away. A deal of this scope could be the biggest triumph of his long career.
Or maybe he just really likes HBO’s Game of Thrones.