[Update: AT&T has officially announced that it will acquire Time Warner for $107.50 per share. The deal will now go through the usual legal process to ensure the companies comply with anticompetitive regulations.]
After a few days of deliberations, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the deal is done. AT&T has agreed to buy Time Warner for more than $80 billion. This values Time Warner shares at around $105 each, a significant premium over the closing price of $89 on Friday. The deal will entrench the carrier further into the entertainment business; AT&T and Time Warner are expected to announce the acquisition as soon as later today.
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The acquisition of Time Warner means that AT&T will now own major media properties like CNN and HBO, as well as the Warner Brothers film studio. Although the two companies have reportedly completed their negotiations, the deal would still be subject to extensive regulatory approval. It is unlikely to close until late next year.
To prevent monopolistic control, it is likely that AT&T will be forced to comply with strict conditions if they want the deal to succeed. Time Warner was seen as the last major media company that has the potential to be acquired. Other competitors in the space are family-owned (such as CBS and Viacom) or simply too large, the likes of Disney.
It has been reported that Apple has considered acquiring Time Warner but never made a formal offer. The deal comes at a time when it feels like everyone is racing to own original content in the internet streaming movies and TV shows space. Time Warner includes HBO, so AT&T will now own some of the most popular TV shows like Game of Thrones. Expect an official announcement of the merger sometime in the next few hours.
Time will tell if Apple missed out on a good opportunity here as the company continues to show timid interest in producing original content.