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Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is shown in 2006. Time Warner announced July 17, 2013, that John Martin would replace Phil Kent as CEO of Turner Broadcasting at the beginning of 2014. (LUCIAN READ/REUTERS)
Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes is shown in 2006. Time Warner announced July 17, 2013, that John Martin would replace Phil Kent as CEO of Turner Broadcasting at the beginning of 2014. (LUCIAN READ/REUTERS)

Time Warner CEO questions megadeals after Fox pulls out Add to ...

Time Warner Inc. chief executive Jeff Bewkes opened his remarks during the company’s second quarter earnings call on Wednesday vowing he would not discuss Twenty-First Century Fox’s stunning turnabout to pull its offer to buy Time Warner.

But Bewkes responded when one analyst sidestepped the request and asked broadly about merger and acquisition opportunities and if there is any pressure to grow the company.

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“I would just encourage everybody to look at all sides of the issue when contemplating the benefits and risks of putting very large companies together,” Bewkes said.

Indeed, under Bewkes who has steered the media conglomerate since 2008, Time Warner has slimmed down, shedding properties like AOL, Time Warner Cable, and Time Inc and making it an attractive target for acquisitive-hungry rivals.

Bewkes said he feels that Time Warner is already at scale -for its studio business Warner Bros which he described as the “biggest producer of content in the world” to its collection of cable networks which also dominate.

“We are not lacking something we need,” he said.

Certainly, Time Warner needs to show it can go it alone after fiercely refusing to engage in talks with Fox, which offered to buy it in a deal amounting to about $80 billion.

Fox pulled its bid on Tuesday night, putting to an end for now, in what promised to be a long courtship that could have resulted in creating one of the world’s largest media companies with two major studios, a bevy of cable networks and pay-TV channel HBO.

“When faced with a hostile takeover bid, Time Warner did exactly what they should have done. They crushed the numbers,” wrote Michael Nathanson with MoffettNathanson Research in a note to investors.

Meanwhile, Time Warner reported higher-than-expected quarterly profit on Wednesday and boosted it share buyback program by an additional $5 billion.

The strong results and shareholder-friendly measure could not prevent Time Warner’s stock from sliding to 12 percent to $74.77 - well below the $85 per share offer from Rupert Murdoch’s Fox.

Later Wednesday, Fox will report its quarterly results.

Time Warner said it will host an investor’s day in the fall to unveil more details about its long-term strategy.

’GAME OF THRONES’

Revenue from Time Warner’s Home Box Office unit jumped 17 percent to $1.42 billion for the second quarter, helped by the popularity of “Game of Thrones” and other HBO shows.

The company said the fourth season of “Game of Thrones,” which ended in June, was the most watched season of an original series in HBO’s history. The Emmy award-winning fantasy epic had an average gross audience of 19 million viewers.

The company’s Turner Networks unit - home to CNN, TBS and TNT - also posted an increase in revenue on higher subscription and advertisement sales.

Net income from continuing operations attributable to Time Warner common shareholders rose to $843 million, or 94 cents per share, for the three months ended June 30, from $698 million, or 73 cents per share, a year earlier.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned 98 cents per share.

Revenue increased to $6.79 billion from $6.61 billion.

Analysts, on average, had expected a profit of 84 cents a share on revenue of $6.87 billion, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

The company forecast full-year 2014 adjusted profit growth in the low teens in terms of percentage, off a base of 2013 adjusted earnings of $3.51 per share.

Time Warner said in April it expected its full-year adjusted profit to grow in the low- to mid-teen percentage range, or better, for at least the next three or four years.

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