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The biggest television and media company the world has ever seen, or quite possibly ever will see is not to be, at least not yet: 21st Century Fox has withdrawn its spectacular bid for Time Warner.
Here's the statement from 21st Century Fox CEO Rupert Murdoch, who clearly coveted the cash-and-prestige machine HBO in this deal:
“We viewed a combination with Time Warner as a unique opportunity to bring together two great companies, each with celebrated content and brands. Our proposal had significant strategic merit and compelling financial rationale and our approach had always been friendly.
"However, Time Warner management and its board refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling. Additionally, the reaction in our share price since our proposal was made undervalues our stock and makes the transaction unattractive to Fox shareholders. These factors, coupled with our commitment to be both disciplined in our approach to the combination and focused on delivering value for the Fox shareholders, has led us to withdraw our offer."
The withdrawal is a bit of a surprise, even if the Justice Department would have had a lot of explaining to do by allowing such a merger to proceed -- creating a media combination that would fully control a quarter of the motion picture industry (if not more) and a vast collection of TV assets and suppliers whose products reach every man, woman and child in the United States.
The original bid in June -- not made public until July -- was classic Murdoch: Aggressive, fast and absolutely unexpected -- even apparently by Time Warner, which is now effectively in play, even without the Fox offer in hand.