Murdoch's Fox expected to push for Time Warner deal on Wednesday

Mon Aug 4, 2014 3:58pm EDT
 
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By Jennifer Saba

(Reuters) - Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox Inc is expected to make an aggressive case for merging with Time Warner Inc during its quarterly earnings call on Wednesday, though people familiar with the company's plans have said it would not use that forum to raise its bid.

Time Warner is due to report its financial results on Wednesday as well, marking the first time executives from both companies will publicly speak since the offer was first revealed on July 16.

It will be an opportunity for Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes to defend his record for shareholder value. Fox's Chief Operating Officers Chase Carey and James Murdoch will have the chance to discuss the more than $1 billion in cost savings and powerful combination of cable networks and sports programing. It is unclear whether Rupert Murdoch, chairman and CEO of Fox, will make an appearance given the stakes.

Fox has offered to buy Time Warner for about $80 billion, or about $85 per share, in a mix of cash and stock. Time Warner turned it down, saying its plan to go it alone "is superior to any proposal" from Fox.

Though Fox is expected to raise its offer it will not rise beyond the range of $90 to $95 per share, a person familiar with Fox told Reuters on July 25. The timing of another offer is unclear. Some analysts have said that an even higher bid would be needed to win over Time Warner management and shareholders.

A spokesman for Fox declined to comment.

A potential tie-up would create one of the world's largest media conglomerates, dominating content production with two major studios, a stable of cable networks like Fox News and TNT, broadcast networks and pay-TV channel HBO.

Faced with a rash of media distribution mergers, such as Comcast Corp's proposed $45 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable and AT&T's $48.5 billion deal to buy DirecTV, programing creators are responding with their own potential deals to add clout for negotiations with cable and satellite distributors and new entrants like Netflix and Amazon.   Continued...

 
A woman walks past the Time Warner Center near Columbus Circle in Manhattan, New York July 16, 2014. REUTERS/Adrees Latif