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Published August 31, 1995
Officials from Time Warner and Turner Broadcasting confirmed that they are engaged in merger talks yesterday, but a joint statement acknowledged that "significant issues remain to be negotiated" (Mult., 8/31). Would-be shareholders in the new entity, according to the L.A. TIMES: Turner 12%, Seagram 10%, Liberty Media 9.4%. Regardless of whether this deal goes through, or Turner decides to ally with another partner, Bishop Cheen, senior analyst at Paul Kagan Associates, sums up well the current state of affairs: "This is a wild ass August" (L.A. TIMES, 8/31). WILL IT HAPPEN? At this point, there is only one thing "certain," according to analyst Harold Vogel of Cowen & Co., "Turner Broadcasting is in play and will be sold" (David Lieberman, USA TODAY, 8/31). A Time Warner-Turner combo would be "fraught with financial and management challenges" (Shapiro, Sharpe & Jensen, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/31). One senior TV industry exec: "Of all the big deals announced this summer, this one strikes me as the most problematic" (Paul Farhi, WASHINGTON POST, 8/31). In L.A., Bates & Dutka write, "Plenty of skeptics on Wall Street and in Hollywood remain convinced the story is far from over, and that Turner's fate will once again tack sharply in a surprising new direction. They see Turner eventually balking at the deal or another bidder emerging" (L.A. TIMES, 8/31). WHAT DOES MALONE WANT? TCI's John Malone, a 24% shareholder in TBS, holds the key to any deal. One Time Warner senior exec, on Malone: "He's acting cooperatively right now. But we're all sitting here, waiting for the other show to drop" (Mark Landler, N.Y. TIMES, 8/31). The ATLANTA CONSTITUTION cites one observer who likens the talks to Ted Turner and Time Warner Chair Gerald Levin "trying to woo Malone without losing their shirts" (Kloer, Unger & Haddad, ATLANTA CONSTITUTION, 8/31). USA TODAY sees the possibility of Malone asking for a key Time Warner asset, such as HBO (Kevin Maney, USA TODAY, 8/31). OTHER BUYERS IN THE WINGS? The N.Y. DAILY NEWS reports that GE "is poised to make a run" at Turner possibly sparking a bidding war with Time Warner (Tom Lowry, N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/31). While a News Corp. spokesperson said the company was not interested in buying TBS, News Corp. Chair Rupert Murdoch and Malone met in New York yesterday. Sources say Murdoch is interested in acquiring CNN (Shapiro, Sharpe & Jensen, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 8/31).