Why has Rupert Murdoch pulled the plug on his Time Warner bid? And is the fight really over?

Rupert Murdoch’s 21st Century Fox has ended its bid to purchase global media and entertainment company Time Warner after the company “refused to engage” with Murdoch’s business.

The tie-up would have created a vast conglomerate of media power that would have been seen as the cherry on the cake of Murdoch’s career as an international media tycoon.

21st Century Fox said it was withdrawing its $80bn bid after Time Warner “refused to engage with us”, and said they would be looking to sell $6bn worth of shares it already held in the company.

In a statement, Murdoch said: “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.”

Murdoch’s bid for Time Warner would have been his largest acquisition to date.

But is it all over?

Speaking to the Guardian, Richard Greenfield, a media analyst at BTIG, said he was surprised by the withdrawal. He said: “I think this is classic Murdoch gamesmanship. Murdoch is saying: ‘OK so you are not even going to entertain this bid, we have other options let’s see how your shareholders like this.’ I guess we’ll know tomorrow.”

Meanwhile, his thoughts have been echoed by David Folkenflik, an NPR media correspondent and author of the book Murdoch’s World, who said to the Guardian: “Anyone who thinks that this is the last move in this particular game of chess hasn’t been paying attention.”

He added: “This is another way for him to ratchet up pressure on Time Warner. He may not get this. He doesn’t always get what he wants despite his reputation, but this is far from the end.”

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