The offer could be the opening move in a longer pursuit of Time Warner after Wall Street chatter recently had correctly predicted a Murdoch approach. The companies have combined annual revenue of $65 billion.
“21st Century Fox can confirm that we made a formal proposal to Time Warner last month to combine the two companies,” Fox said in a statement. “The Time Warner board of directors declined to pursue our proposal. We are not currently in any discussions with Time Warner.”
Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes issued a video to employees in response to the news, where he stated that the current plan is “superior to any proposal that is in a position to offer.”
The Times said 21st COO Chase Carey met Bewkes in June before Fox made an $85 per share cash and stock offer. At the time, that amounted to a 25 percent premium.
Fox indicated that it would sell TW’s CNN to head off potential antitrust concerns since Fox News competes with CNN, according to the report.
“Time Warner’s board discussed the proposal at length, the people briefed said, and early this month sent a terse letter rejecting the offer, saying that it was better off remaining independent,” the Times reported.
TW’s stock in premarket action jumped more than 15 percent to $82, which would be its highest-ever price.
Some analysts have recently suggested that the consolidation of pay TV companies, such as Comcast’s planned takeover of Time Warner Cable and AT&T’s proposed acquisition of DirecTV, could lead to deals among content companies. TW has been suggested as a possible takeover target since it isn’t controlled by a media mogul or founding family.
TW management has focused on its content assets and said it sees upside as an independent company.