AT&T Acquires Warner Bros. DC Comics, &HBO $85 Billion


AT&T has reached a deal to buy Time Warner Inc. for $85.4 billion — a blockbuster marriage that would transform the telephone company into the nation’s largest entertainment company and a major force in Hollywood.

The agreement, which was hammered out at breakneck speed and announced by the two companies Saturday afternoon, accelerates the wave of consolidation sweeping through the telecommunications and media industries.

AT&T agreed to pay $107.50 a share to Time Warner investors in a cash and stock deal approved unanimously by both boards, the companies said.

“Premium content always wins,” said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman and chief executive. “It has been true on the big screen, the TV screen, and now it’s proving true on the mobile screen.”

By adding Time Warner’s expansive portfolio, which includes Hollywood’s largest film and television studio, Warner Bros., and such popular TV networks as HBO, CNN, Cartoon Network, TBS and TNT, the bulked-up AT&T would surpass Walt Disney Co. and Comcast Corp., which owns NBCUniversal.

“The whole industry is going to change,” predicted Jeffrey Cole, director of the Center for the Digital Future at the USC Annenberg School for Communication.

The trend of consolidation comes as technology advances have been upending traditional entertainment companies. Many in the industry believe that getting bigger is the best way to compete with companies like Google, Apple, Netflix and Facebook.

Time Warner Chief Executive Jeffrey Bewkes said Saturday that AT&T — with more than 100 million cell phone customers — provided a potent platform to deliver Time Warner’s programming to consumers.

“We think AT&T has tremendous capabilities that we don’t have on our own,” Bewkes said. “This is a unique combination.”

The companies have a shared culture of innovation, he said, citing AT&T and Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone and Warner Bros. creation of the first feature films with sound. An AT&T-Time Warner union would create a new leader in 21st Century entertainment, he said.


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