American telecom AT&T has reached an agreement to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion, with a per share price tag of $107.50 split between cash and stock. The deal is expected by both parties to close by the end of 2017. The acquisition would instantly transform Dallas-based AT&T — the 12th largest company in the world, per the 2000 Forbes list — into a major media and entertainment player.
The new company would be headed by AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson, with Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes staying on for a period after the close to help with the transition. The combination of the phone giant’s millions of mobile users (and pay-TV subscribers through its DirecTV) and Time Warner’s raft of media brands would be formidable.
Time Warner’s holdings include CNN, TNT, HBO, Turner Broadcasting System (which includes Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Boomerang, Cartoonito, Super Deluxe), Warner Bros. Entertainment (including its TV, feature, home entertainment, interactive/games and consumer product arms; Warner Bros. Animation; DC Entertainment), and a 10% stake in Hulu.
The companies intend to become the first US-based mobile phone operation to compete with cable TV by providing an online video bundle similar to pay-TV channel packages, according to The Wall Street Journal.
It remains to be seen what conditions may be placed on the deal by regulatory officials.
Time Warner previously turned down an $85-per-share offer from 21st Century Fox two years ago.