Another huge media merger may be in the cards soon enough, as AT&T is reportedly mulling a Time Warner acquisition.
AT&T already acquired satellite television service DirecTV last year, but it's apparently looking to raise the stakes and take over Time Warner Inc.
Bloomberg reports that executives from AT&T and Time Warner have already engaged in negotiations regarding a potential merger or some other kind of partnership.
"The talks, which at this stage are informal, have focused on building relations between the companies rather than establishing the terms of a specific transaction, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private," notes Bloomberg.
AT&T is already one of the biggest providers of wireless and home internet service, as well as pay-TV, but acquiring Time Warner would give it another nice trove of popular programming such as HBO, Cartoon Network, NBA basketball and more. AT&T wants to turn into a media and entertainment behemoth and more content is always welcome.
On the other hand, considering that AT&T is already among the biggest players in the pay-TV and wireless and home internet markets in the United States, why would it acquire Time Warner? It's clear it would be a vertical merger, as AT&T is way above Time Warner, so why not just license the content instead of buying the whole company?
The cable network industry is not very profitable to begin with, and it's unlikely that AT&T would find a convenient way to turn things around.
Nevertheless, businessman and media veteran Peter Chernin thinks that Time Warner has plenty going on to make it an attractive target for an acquisition, Bloomberg adds. Chernin did not know any details about a potential merger, but said both AT&T and Time Warner are "great companies."
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is reportedly willing to sell if he receives a fair offer, one source told Bloomberg. It's worth noting here that back in 2014, Time Warner rejected a bid from 21st Century Fox, which offered $85 per share and valued Time Warner at more than $75 billion.
A separate report from The Wall Street Journal says the two companies are already in advanced talks and an announcement could make it official as soon as this weekend.
Following the news of a potential AT&T-Time Warner merger, Time Warner shares jumped 4.7 percent, or $3.75, closing at $82.99, which translates to a valuation of roughly $64.5 billion. AT&T shares, meanwhile, dropped 1.9 percent to $38.65.
It remains to be seen whether this deal goes through and, if it does, whether it will be a good idea. Neither AT&T nor Time Warner have issued any statements or offered any comments at this point, but we'll keep you in the loop as soon as more information becomes available.