AT&T could acquire Time Warner as soon as this weekend, merging the telecommunications giant — which provides satellite TV, mobile phone, and Internet services — with the entertainment powerhouse, which is home to major media brands including HBO, Turner Broadcasting, and Warner Bros. The deal could still fall through or be delayed, according to The Wall Street Journal, which notes that the companies are in “advanced talks” and pegs a purchase price at a whopping $100 billion.
Such a deal would presumably generate antitrust concerns, notes the Journal, given that it would mark the biggest acquisition in the media and telecom space in years — following Comcast’s purchase of NBCUniversal in 2011. Veteran media executive Peter Chernin, whose Chernin Group company operates a joint online video venture with AT&T called Otter Media, is informally advising AT&T on its bid.
But news of the offer could bring other bidders to the fore, the Journal reports, including Apple, which approached Time Warner about an acquisition several months back. In 2014, Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes rejected an $80 billion takeover bid from 21st Century Fox.
AT&T acquired pay TV company DirecTV last year for roughly $50 billion to bolster its video business, though assuming ownership of Time Warner’s uber-hot media properties — including HBO’s hit Game Of Thrones series and sports coverage that runs on both TNT and TBS — would drastically further these ambitions. Time Warner also owns a 10% stake in the SVOD service Hulu.
Bloomberg first reported yesterday that informal discussions between the two companies were taking place.