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Our top story for this week made major headlines on Wednesday, when it was reported that media mogul Rupert Murdoch’s Twenty-First Century Fox made a bold offer for Time Warner. Should the deal become successful, this would lead to an unprecedented paradigm shift in American media and entertainment.
Time Warner, whose assets include the HBO cable channel and the Warner Bros movie studio, rejected the $80 billion dollar bid, but sources close to the situation have cited Murdoch’s “disciplined determination” to secure the contract. Investors anticipate that the offer will be sweetened with a possible 40-percent increase in the cash offering.
According to a Reuters article covering the event, “A combined Fox-Time Warner would have a massive array of media and sports content and be in a very powerful negotiating position with cable and satellite distributors – some of whom have themselves announced mega-deals and newer ways of getting to consumers, such as online video distributors Netflix Inc and Amazon.com Inc.”
Shares of Time Warner, which are traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol TWX, closed up 17% on Wednesday under heavy volume that was over 10-times its 3-month average. Still, not everything aligned itself with bullish confidence. First, there is the personal reputation of Mr. Murdoch, who is recently coming off of a high-profile divorce as well as a damaging phone-hacking scandal that plagued his British tabloids. Second, Time Warner has shown no sign of acquiescence, insisting that the offer undervalued the media conglomerate and citing serious concerns about the dominant control that the Murdoch family would leverage under the terms of the deal.
For the moment, Time Warner is deflecting attention away, with CEO Jeffrey Bewkes appearing on a videotaped presentation to the company’s employees, stating that their standalone strategic plan would create value “superior to any proposal” that Fox could offer.
Nevertheless, as with anything in the current corporatocracy, the contentious deal could come down to price. With Fox shares trading at a high multiple relative to Time Warner, executives worry that the former could be due for a correction, further complicating matters. But the real victim would ultimately be freedom of information. With so much control centered in the hands of the few, critical socio-economic issues would be further constrained into a tightening framework.
In market news, the broader indices were severely pressured, with the benchmark S&P 500 giving up more than a percent in valuation, while the Dow Jones dropped 161 points, knocking it off the 17,000 threshold. In contrast, the precious metals complex received a big boost, with gold and silver charging up on startling allegations that a Malaysian airliner was shot down by Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine. Palladium jumped up to 886 on the ask, marking a multi-year high for the industrial metal. In digital currency news, bitcoin remained rangebound throughout most of the week, settling at 624 at last count.
And that will do it for this edition. Thanks for watching and we’ll see you next week!