Twenty-First Century Fox has abandoned its attempt to buy Time Warner and the question being asked on Wall Street is – is it a real retreat or a shrewd move?
Immediately there was speculation this was done to drive down Time Warner’s share price so that Fox’s chairman and chief executive Rupert Murdoch could have another go later.
Walking away like this is uncharacteristic for Murdoch – the 83-year-old media mogul is known for his deal-making skills and a merger to create one of the world’s largest media conglomerates would have sealed his reputation.
But people in Murdoch’s camp are being quoted as saying it really is no deal and instead the company will focus on plans to buy back $6 billion worth of its shares to boost the value of the stock.
Murdoch cited Time Warner’s management and its board’s refusal to come to the table to discuss a takeover as one reason for the stunning turnabout.
“Our proposal had significant strategic merit and compelling financial rationale and our approach had always been friendly. However, Time Warner management and its board refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling,” he said in a statement released after the market closed on Tuesday.
He also cited Fox’s share price – down about 11 percent since the offer was unveiled on July 16 – saying it had become undervalued, making the deal “unattractive to Fox shareholders.”
The shares bounced back when Fox’s decision was made public, while Time Warner’s slumped.