Can You Make Money on the AT&T Time Warner Deal?

In one of the biggest media company mergers ever AT&T has made a deal to take over Time Warner. CNN reported the media mega deal.

AT&T and Time Warner have agreed to an $85 billion deal – one of the biggest media tie-ups ever.

The deal will be subject to a review by government regulators that could take more than a year to complete.

AT&T will pay $107.50 a share – a big premium over where Time Warner stock was trading last week. Including Time Warner’s debt, the deal’s value is $109 billion.

AT&T is doing this to move beyond its core wireless and internet service into programming. The Time Warner package will include CNN, TNT, HBO, the Warner Bros. studio, as well as other websites and channels. The question for investors is can you make money on the AT&T Time Warner deal or should you avoid it all costs?

Southwestern Bell Corporation

Southwestern Bell Corporation, SBC Communications, was one of the regional “baby bell” spinoffs of the breakup of AT&T. It subsequently purchased other baby bells, Pacific Telesis and Southern New England Telecommunications as well as Ameritech before acquiring its previous parent company, AT&T, in 2005 and changing its name to that of the parent.

Time Warner Corporation

Time Warner is a media conglomerate ranking only behind Comcast and Disney in revenue and only behind in Disney in entertainment brands. The company’s roots are in Time Inc., AOL, HBO, Turner Broadcasting and Warner Brothers. The move by AT&T to acquire this conglomerate is an attempt at complete vertical integration of content and delivery systems. It may make sense for AT&T to do this but can you make money on the AT&T Time Warner deal?

Market Skepticism

Shares of both AT&T and Time Warner fell on news of the proposed merger. The Wall Street Journal reports on Wall Street skepticism.

AT&T Inc. can add Wall Street to the list of parties skeptical of its $85.4 billion deal to buy Time Warner Inc.
Shares of Time Warner dropped 2.2% to $87.52, below AT&T’s offer of $107.50 a share, while shares of AT&T fell 1.5% to $36.91 in morning trading.

If you were to buy Time Warner at the current price and the deal goes through you would make a tidy profit. The fact that Time Warner is selling for less tells us that the market does not believe that the deal with be approved by government regulators. The fact that AT&T fell tells us that the market also believes that if the deal does go through that AT&T is paying too much and that the deal will bring down the value of AT&T stock.

Memories of the AOL Time Warner Merger

Fortune reminds us of the pain that resulted from the AOL takeover of Time Warner in 2001.

The first rule of mergers is don’t do a deal with Time Warner. The second rule, as they say, is that there is only one rule.
On Saturday, AT&T T -1.88% broke that rule, announcing it was going to buy Time Warner TWX -2.12% for $85.4 billion, or $107.40 a share. Time Warner’s last big deal, of course, was a doozy. Back in 2001, AOL agreed to buy Time Warner for $112 billion, in a deal that merged a content provider with what was then the leading provider of access to the Internet. It was supposed to be a competition killer. Instead, the deal killed the combined company and nearly all of the executives who forged it, which is now remembered as possibly one of the worst corporate combinations of all time.

Will it be different this time around? Can you make money on the AT&T Time Warner deal? Over the short term a buyer could make money on Time Warner if the deal goes through. Call options would serve the purpose of holding open that possibility. Staying with AT&T after the merger might be the tricky bit if the AOL experience is any indication.

Can You Make Money on the AT&T Time Warner Deal? PPT

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