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Fox withdraws Time Warner bid

By Sarah Rabil Bloomberg News

This article was published August 6, 2014 at 2:55 a.m.

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc. withdrew its $75 billion takeover offer for Time Warner Inc. on Tuesday after the billionaire's attempt to reshape the media industry was rejected.

Murdoch, the chairman of Fox, said he's backing down after Time Warner's board refused to engage in talks and Fox's stock price declined 11 percent since the offer became public. Fox instead authorized a $6 billion repurchase of its Class A shares.

"Time Warner management and its board refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling," Murdoch, 83, said in a statement. "Additionally, the reaction in our share price since our proposal was made undervalues our stock and makes the transaction unattractive to Fox shareholders."

Time Warner, led by Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes, rejected Murdoch's June offer of $85 a share in cash and stock as too low and said the media company's growth plan will create more value than any proposal Fox "is in a position to offer."

Analysts said a combination of Fox and Time Warner, the owner of HBO and Warner Bros., would have reshaped the media industry by giving the TV-and-film companies bargaining power in negotiations with cable operators such as Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc., which are in the process of their own merger.

Shares of Fox rose as much as 11 percent to $34.71 in after-hours trading after closing Tuesday at $31.03. Time Warner dropped as much as 14 percent to $72.85, after closing Tuesday at $85.19.

Keith Cocozza, a spokesman for Time Warner, didn't immediately respond to a phone call or email seeking comment. A representative for Fox had no immediate comment.

The combined company would have concentrated some of the top cable networks under one roof, joining Fox News and FX with Time Warner's TNT, TBS and HBO. It would have ended up receiving 40 percent of the licensing payments that pay-TV companies pay to both the broadcast and cable networks, according to Michael Nathanson, an analyst with MoffettNathanson Research LLC.

The board at Time Warner determined Murdoch wouldn't be able to raise enough money to increase his bid to the $100 a share or more that it would take to interest investors, people familiar with the matter said last month.

Fox had previously calculated the combined company could achieve more than $1 billion in cost savings, including through the elimination of overlapping back office, human resources, sales and information technology operations, a person familiar with the matter had said.

Both companies plan to report earnings results today.

"21st Century Fox's future has never been brighter," Murdoch said in the statement. "The strength of our leading franchises, combined with the power of our emerging growth businesses and the leadership positions of our international enterprises put us on a path for even greater success."

Business on 08/06/2014

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