AT&T reached a deal Saturday to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion, an acquisition that reflects the telecom giant’s desire to amass reputable TV and film content to diversify its massive but mature business of providing Internet access.
In the cash-and-stock deal confirmed by AT&T and Time Warner late Saturday, AT&T will pay $107.50 per share of Time Warner, whose diverse media portfolio includes HBO, CNN, TNT, TBS, Warner Bros., theme parks, Bleacher Report and a 10% stake in streaming service Hulu. The deal, approved by the boards of both companies, is expected to close before the end of 2017.
“This is a perfect match of two companies with complementary strengths who can bring a fresh approach to how the media and communications industry works for customers, content creators, distributors and advertisers,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and CEO. “Premium content always wins. It has been true on the big screen, the TV screen and now it’s proving true on the mobile screen.”
The deal, if approved by regulators, would be one of the largest acquisitions ever in the telecom-media sector. It also lays bare AT&T’s grand ambition to control sizable market shares in both content and distribution businesses, a prospect that will surely trigger concern and scrutiny among federal regulators and consumer rights advocates.