Some things just go better together, and Needham analyst Laura Martin believes Apple and The Walt Disney Co. are two of those things. “Combining Apple’s distribution footprint of 1.25 billion unique customers with Disney’s 570 million consumers reached each year would drive 15% to 25% valuation upside for Apple shareholders,“ Martin said in a research note.
Canada’s Rogers Communications and Shaw Communications said on Monday they extended the deadline for their C$20 billion ($15.01 billion) merger to Feb. 17 from the end of January, as the companies await government approval. The deal requires the final approval from Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne for the transfer of spectrum licenses held by Shaw’s Freedom Mobile unit to Quebecor Inc.’s Videotron.
The top brass at Warner Bros. Discovery held a company-wide town hall Wednesday over Zoom in which they laid out the current state of the company and the industry, acknowledging the hard times amid a slew of cost-cutting and layoffs and emphatically addressing merger rumors with CEO David Zaslav exclaiming, “We are not for sale, absolutely, not for sale.”
What Happens Next For Tegna?
The Federal Trade Commission and the Department of Justice’s antitrust division on Tuesday launched a new inquiry aimed at updating guidelines to block illegal mergers. The agencies are seeking public input to update guidelines over the next 60 days.
ViacomCBS and Comcast’s potential partnership has been slowed by concern about the Biden Administration’s pledge to aggressively enforce the nation’s antitrust laws, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions. Both sides are waiting to see how the new administration’s regulators react to the proposed merger of AT&T’s WarnerMedia unit with Discovery, says the source, before resuming discussions about ways the two sides could work together — including any possible business combination — beyond a possible streaming partnership outside the U.S.
Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.) last week proposed an amendment to a budget bill that would prohibit the merger of some Big Tech companies by presumptively preventing any merger or acquisitions involving a “market-dominant online platform.” That would mean the dominant player would have to affirmatively show that a merger or purchase was not anticompetitive.
Analyst: WarnerMedia, NBCU Should Merge
“It is time for both AT&T and Comcast to abandon the fool’s gold of vertical integration of content and distribution and merge NBCUniversal with WarnerMedia,” LightShedPartners analyst Richard Greenfield argued last week. Will this vision actually become reality? “We doubt it,” he adds.
A deal will happen, ‘whether it’s a year from now or 10 years from now,’ he says.
Charlie Ergen’s dream of merging his Dish Network with AT&T’s DirecTV has been squashed by the Department of Justice — yet again. Regulators with the DOJ’s antitrust division recently informed executives of AT&T that a marriage between DirecTV and Dish would likely have to wait until faster 5G wireless service is more widely available in rural markets, two sources close to the situation said.
The Federal Trade Commission and Department of Justice are seeking comment on a couple of proposed changes to the automatic Hart Scott Rodino (HSR) antitrust reviews, which are required of large mergers (ones valued at at least $94 million). The FTC and DOJ divide up antitrust reviews, with DOJ generally handling the media merger reviews.
The Federal Trade Commission is expanding its retrospective analysis into the impact of mergers it has approved over the past three-plus decades. That comes as both the FTC and Department of Justice are looking at whether Big Tech mergers that got pro forma sign-offs because they were not large enough to trigger antitrust reviews should have been captured by competition reviews.
DirecTV-Dish Merger May No Longer Make Sense
FuboTV — a U.S.-based video streaming service offering a premium, over-the-top bundle of sports TV channels — has inked a deal to merge with Facebank Group, a developer of technology IP. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but the proposed merger aims to create a sports-first digital entertainment alternative online for cord-cutters and cord-nevers.
The Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are teaming up for two public workshops on drafts of new vertical merger guidelines. Vertical mergers are ones that combine different parts of the same supply chain, an AT&T with its video services and Time Warner with its content production, for example. DOJ and the FTC divvy up reviews of mergers for potential anticompetitive effects.
The companies said in a joint statement the new group will be led by PSA’s cost-cutting CEO Carlo Tavares, with Fiat Chrysler’s Chairman John Elkann as chairman of the merged company. Fiat Chrysler CEO Mike Manley will stay on, but it was not announced in what capacity. No name for the new company has been decided.
Mexican broadcaster Grupo Televisa won an injunction against Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox’s assets in Mexico, but Mexico’s market regulator said on Thursday that the ruling would not stall the deal.
The shake-out in media and entertainment after a few years of mergers, cost-cutting initiatives and massive restructurings has thrust many experienced executives back onto the job market — but they’re not all landing at mainstream Hollywood companies. A growing number of them are making their way into new roles as partners, advisers or entrepreneurs-in-residence at private equity and venture capital funds.
Viacom and CBS shares perked up Wednesday, each rising more than 3% in their final day of trading as separate companies. The media companies’ all-stock merger took effect after the closing bell. Shares in ViacomCBS will begin trading Thursday morning on the Nasdaq.
Management touts the firm’s big U.S. TV audience share, content library, growing streaming services and international upside, but some analysts say investors want to see proof of the merger benefits over time.
A Delaware judge on Monday ordered CBS Corp. to turn over records regarding its plan to reunite with Viacom to a shareholder who wants to investigate if the deal unfairly benefits Shari Redstone, who controls both companies.
CBS and Viacom expect their re-merger to become official after the U.S. stock markets close on Wednesday, Dec. 4, the companies said this morning.
Shareholders cleared the way Thursday for New Media Investment Group and USA Today owner Gannett to join forces in a deal that will create the largest U.S. media company by print circulation, and one that will also vie for the biggest online news audience nationwide. In separate votes, shareholders of each company approved New Media’s $1.13 billion acquisition of Gannett. The companies can now move forward to finalize the deal, which is expected to close Tuesday, Nov. 19.
The FCC has issued the text of its decision approving the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint. That came in the form of a Memorandum Opinion and Order, Declaratory Ruling, and Order of Proposed Modification. The FCC modified some build-out requirements on Dish spectrum as part of the spin-off of the merged company’s Boost Mobile prepaid operations to the satellite operator.
The merger would bring together Italian-American Fiat Chrysler, with its strong footprint in North America where it makes at least two-thirds of its profits, and France’s PSA Peugeot, the No. 2 automaker in Europe. Both lag in China, despite the participation of the Chinese shareholder Dongfeng, in PSA Peugeot, and are catching up in the transition to electrified powertrains.
Viacom and CBS said their merger is getting nearer to completion and that a closing is now expected in early December. The companies said that the merger proposals have been approved by National Amusements, the investment company owned by the Redstone family that controls both Viacom and CBS.
The FCC today voted along party lines to approve the $26 billion merger between T-Mobile and Sprint, meaning the deal has received the full blessing of the U.S. government. But the merger is still facing a significant obstacle as more than a dozen state attorneys general forge ahead in their lawsuit to block the deal.
Senator and presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has come out with his plan to “end corporate corruption and greed” and it would include potentially unwinding mergers approved under the Trump Administration. Among the companies Sanders singled out: “Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox has created a conglomerate that controls media in sports, in movie theaters, and on television,” he said.
At the same time it brings on board three former Tribune execs: Sean Compton, who will head WGN America; Dana Zimmer, who oversees distribution; and Gary Weitman, who is in charge of internal and external communications.
DOJ antitrust chief Makan Delrahim has named section chief Kathy O’Neill to a new post as senior director of investigations and litigation. As such she will be the most senior civil antitrust attorney. Most recently, she had been chief of the Antitrust Division’s transportation, energy and agriculture section.
Investors and media observers are hoping that Viacom and CBS will offer some hint of their progress this week toward a merger when the media companies each report their second quarter earnings on Aug. 8.
GateHouse Media, a chain backed by an investment firm, is buying USA Today owner Gannett Co. for $12.06 a share in cash and stock, or about $1.4 billion. The combined company would have more than 260 daily papers in the U.S. along with more than 300 weeklies.
“Without the required divestitures, Nexstar’s merger with Tribune threatens significant competitive harm to cable and satellite TV subscribers and small businesses,” said antitrust chief Makan Delrahim. “I am pleased, however, that we have been able to reach a resolution of the division’s concerns, thanks in part to the parties’ commitment to engage in good faith settlement talks from the outset of our investigation.”
An increasingly likely merger could shake up the streaming world.