Cable TV

Are tech companies interested in Time Warner? Fox or Time Warner, who will blink first?

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BENGALURU: Are tech companies really interested in Time Warner? Speculation is on about one of the biggies like Google, Amazon, Apple coming in as the knight in shining armour to thwart Fox’s unsolicited offer and taking over. Or maybe Verizon or Disney could step in, up the ante and carry away the bride? Is there really a knight in shining armour at all? Time will tell.

While an acquisition like Time Warner would most certainly help Google get into Hollywood and help it create online platforms, Google is not in the content creation business and it could acquire other properties at a far lower price.

Though Amazon has signed a multiyear agreement with Viacom for streaming children’s content and has had a successful video-on-demand partnership with CBS, it would be entering into completely new territory, were it to take over Time Warner. Amazon is already into competition with mobile handset players like Samsung and Apple with its Fire phone, does the company have the wherewithal (besides funds) and the bandwidth to take on more?

For Apple’s iTunes and Apple TV, the merger would be great news, and acquisition of the huge content would be great, but Apple’s focus has been on devices, and not content. Will it be able to leverage the content to the extent to make it worthwhile spending that kind of money?

As mentioned earlier, Time-Warner had rejected Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox (Fox) unsolicited offer allegedly worth about USD 76 billion cash and stock. 21st Century Fox had offered to buy Time Warner for USD 32.42 in cash and offered a ratio of 1.531 Fox class-A share for each Time Warner share. The Fox offer was worth about USD85-86 per share.

In a defensive move, Time Warner has in the meantime initiated evasive action to thwart attacks on its soft underbelly by eliminating a provision in its bylaws that earlier could let just 15 per cent of its shareholders call special meeting, so as to prevent it being forced to consider the Fox offer in case Fox resorts to this measure to force the issue. The bylaws now say that the CEO or a majority of the board can call a special meeting.

Joining the fray against the Fox Time Warner merger is the Writers Guild of America, West (WGAW), which says that such deals could harm writers.

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