AT&T Reaches Deal to Buy Time Warner for More Than $80 Billion

Thomas Gryta and Keach Hagey, Wall Street Jorunal:

AT&T Inc. has reached an agreement to buy Time Warner Inc. for between $105 and $110 a share, with a deal likely to be announced as soon as Saturday evening, according to people familiar with the plans.

The boards of the two companies are meeting on Saturday to approve the transaction, the people said. The deal is half cash and half stock, according to one of the people.

Of note, this does not include Time Warner Cable, which was acquired by Charter Communications. Time Warner owns CNN, HBO, DC Entertainment, and 10% of Hulu, amongst a huge list of other brands. It is one of the largest media conglomerates in the world.

AT&T, meanwhile, is the highest-earning telecommunications company in the world, with over 130 million customers (PDF) and a market capitalization of $226 billion. Should that remain consistent, the combined valuation of over $300 billion would make the resulting company worth more than Comcast and Disney combined.

Meanwhile, CBS and Viacom are reportedly exploring a merger that would create a company with a combined worth of $40 billion, and just three years ago, Comcast completed their acquisition of NBC.

I’m unconvinced that the slow merging of many news and media organizations is in the best interests of the general public. What net positive arises for consumers from having large telecommunications companies also in control of what gets delivered over their wires? If anything, the effect of this will be to create a vastly larger, more powerful, and more influential entity, capable of gobbling up some of the largest companies in the world.

Update: Dennis K. Berman has posted a graphic of the composition of today’s AT&T. The near-reversal of the 1982 breakup of Bell’s monopoly is pretty astonishing.