By Jessica Toonkel and Supantha Mukherjee
Oct 24 – Time Warner Inc Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes said on Monday that AT&T Inc was the only company to make a takeover approach for the media group.
AT&T said on Saturday it had agreed to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion, or $107.50 per share, to gain control of cable TV channels HBO and CNN, film studio Warner Bros, and other coveted media assets.
“Given the steep multiples being offered by AT&T, we doubt a competing offer for the whole of Time Warner can emerge,” said Credit Suisse analyst Omar Sheikh.
Several media outlets had reported that Apple Inc had also been interested in acquiring Time Warner.
The deal is expected to face close scrutiny from antitrust regulators, but AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson seemed confident that the deal will sail through.
“While regulators will often time have concerns with vertical integrations, those are always remedied by conditions imposed on the merger, so that’s how we envision this one to play out,” said Stephenson told CNBC in an interview.
Wall Street analysts on Monday expressed concerns about the implications of the regulatory challenges facing the deal on Time Warner’s stock.
“From a regulatory perspective we believe management are relying heavily on the argument that vertical mergers have historically been approved, yet with so much up in the air in Washington, we find this riskier than would be typical,” said Cowen & Co analyst Colby Synesael.
“We are unprepared at this point to assign anything higher than a 50/50 probability of deal approval,” wrote MoffettNathanson Research in a report Monday, downgrading Time warner to Neutral but raising its target price $8 to $100.
Similarly, Credit Suisse lowered its rating on Time Warner to “neutral” from “outperform”, but raised the price target to $107.50 from $90.
“We believe the value of the offer is full on current earnings and cash flow; that the probability of a counteroffer from a third party is low; and that the transaction will face lengthy scrutiny from regulators,” Omar Sheikh, a Credit Suisse analyst wrote in a report Monday. “We now see better opportunities elsewhere in U.S. Media.”
Time Warner’s shares were down 1.4 percent at $88.19 before the opening bell on Monday. AT&T’s shares were down 2.3 percent at $36.62.