U.S. wireless carrier AT&T recently announced it had agreed to buy Time Warner in a blockbuster deal valued at more than $85 billion.
Apple reportedly approached the media giant recently about a possible deal, but the discussions were only preliminary and didn’t move forward.
With the AT&T-Time Warner merger requiring regulatory approval that could take months, things could easily change so no wonder watchers have been keeping their fingers crossed for Apple to step in and make a rival bid for Time Warner.
However, “Apple is not interested in buying Time Warner at present,” people familiar with the thinking at the company told CNBC on Wednesday.
“Combining with AT&T is the natural next step in the evolution of our business and allows us to significantly accelerate our most important strategies,” Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said today after his company reported better-than-expected earnings.
Anchor David Faber opined on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street:”
The question of course that has come back to focus on Apple. In fact Bewkes asked on the call were there any companies this year that showed interest in acquiring Time Warner. Mr. Bewkes’ answer was let’s focus on AT&T.
What I can tell you about Apple guys, is right now, according to people familiar with its thinking, it’s not interested. Apple is not interested in buying Time Warner at present. Now, these things go on for months and months, this regulatory review’s going to take at least a year. The deal will not close. Certainly if you’re in Apple, things could change. You watch the stock price as you see how things progress.
But anybody expecting an overbid from Apple at this point, certainly, it is not coming. Again, they are sort of not interested at this time. And it doesn’t appear that there would be any other potential interest. Google certainly had been mentioned at one point or another. But right now, it’s AT&T’s, it will be AT&T’s, and the question is do they get it through, what conditions do they agree to in order to get it through the regulators.
The New York Post said a few days ago that investment bankers over at Goldman Sachs have been pushing Apple to make a rival bid for Time Warner.
“They are freaking out trying to convince Apple to come in,” a source with direct knowledge of the situation said. Goldman Sachs could be trying to persuade Apple to outbid AT&T because it’s been left on the sidelines in advising on AT&T’s $85 billion agreement to acquire Time Warner.
It should be also noted that Apple in 2009 hired Goldman Sachs banker Adrian Perica, who now heads up its mergers and acquisitions processes.
I certainly hope Apple will not make a rival bid for Time Warner.
I cannot begin to comprehend the organizational mess and loosening of focus that would inevitably result from merging the two huge corporations with so diametrically opposite corporate cultures. If I were Apple, I’d just acquire Netflix and be done with it.
On the other hand, buying Time Warner would give Apple control over lucrative entertainment properties such as Hollywood studio Warner Bros, franchises like Harry Potter, Batman and Superman and networks like CNN, HBO, TBS, TNT, NBA TV and Cartoon Network.
Apple may not be interested in buying Time Warner “at this point”, but things could certainly change in the future. For now, Apple is focused on producing exclusive behind the scenes videos and interviews with artists for Apple Music subscribers.
For what it’s worth, Apple was reportedly exploring a Time Warner deal just a few months ago: The Wall Street Journal reported in October 2016 that Apple and Time Warner did have advanced talks about a possible merger.