TRYING TO KEEP UP WITH THE LATEST MEGA-MEDIA BOMBSHELL
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.
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).