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Apple mulled Time Warner bid

News, 30 May 2016

NEW YORK: A senior executive at tech giant Apple reportedly raised the possibility of a takeover bid for Time Warner, the multinational media group, in a sign of Apple's intent to expand into content provision.

According to the Financial Times, people familiar with the situation said Eddy Cue, the Apple executive in charge of iTunes, iCloud and Apple Music, came up with the idea in a meeting late last year with Olaf Olafsson, Time Warner's head of corporate strategy.

Although the idea was tentative and did not go any further, it reinforced market speculation that Apple, which is seeing iPhone sales slow, is keen to diversify into media, including streaming, to compete with the likes of Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Only a fortnight ago, it was announced that Apple invested $1bn in Didi Chuxing, China's top ride-hailing app that is the main competitor to Uber in the country.

Apple has tried to break into television for years, but has faced a series of obstacles, such as when talks with CBS and 21st Century Fox to license their content for a live television service broke down last year, Bloomberg reported.

The company has also been building entertainment content for its set-top box and has held talks with media executives about obtaining exclusive shows for Apple TV.

James Cordwell, an analyst at Atlantic Securities, said that an acquisition of Time Warner, especially its HBO division, would very much help Apple catch up with Netflix and Amazon in terms of having quality proprietary content on its platform.

Owning a content company could provide Apple with some leverage to negotiate with the other networks for licensing rights, he added.

However, for now, observers will have to await developments. The Financial Times said Time Warner would have been "an obvious fit", partly because other leading media companies like Comcast and CBS have more complicated share structures involving their founders' families.

Data sourced from Financial Times, Bloomberg; additional content by Warc staff