Apple raised the idea of buying entertainment giant Time Warner at a meeting between the two companies late last year, but the notion never got off the ground, the Financial Times reported on Thursday.
In a meeting at the New York headquarters of Time Warner, which owns cable channels including HBO as well as the Warner Brothers Hollywood studio, Apple senior vice president Eddy Cue proposed the idea to Olaf Olafsson, Time Warner’s head of corporate strategy, the newspaper said, citing unnamed sources.
The proposal did not advance beyond a preliminary stage and discussions did not include Apple CEO Tim Cook or Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes. Apple and Time Warner have worked closely in the past on video efforts, such as the exclusive debut of the HBO Now service on Apple TV last year.
Apple may currently be more interested in acquiring a streaming video service such as Netflix, the report also said, citing unnamed bankers who worked with Apple.
Shares of Netflix rose 4% in premarket trading on Thursday, while shares of Time Warner gained 2%. Apple was unchanged. Apple and Time Warner declined to comment. Netflix did not respond immediately to a request for comment.
Apple-Netflix rumors have a lengthy history, stirring most recently after Tim Cook said in April that the company could “definitely buy something larger than we’ve bought thus far” if there was a deal that fit strategically.
Apple has also been trying to set up an Internet video subscription service, with Cue leading negotiations with content providers like Time Warner. But the company has not been able to strike the deals needed to get the service up and running at a consumer-friendly price.
The iPhone maker could afford to buy either company, with over $230 billion of cash on its balance sheet and ample ability to borrow more. Time Warner’s enterprise value, the amount it would cost to acquire the company including debt and excluding cash, is $80 billion. Netflix has an enterprise value of $43 billion.
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