The usual suspects of media moguldom are expected to descend on picturesque Sun Valley, Idaho at the annual Allen & Co. conference beginning Tuesday, with all eyes focusing on who or what could be the target for the next big a mega merger.
This year’s retreat – scheduled for July 8-23 – is unlike some recent Allen & Co. get-togethers in that two major deals are already in the works – Comcast’s $69 billion union with Time Warner Cable and AT&T’s $67 billion acquisition of DirecTV. But according to several reports, analysts and observers are expecting continued consolidation in the distribution and programming sectors, as well as some possible activity on the telecom and technology side.
According to several reports, guests expected at Allen & Co. chairman Herb Allen’s annual invitation-only get-away amid the mountains and streams of rural Idaho include Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts, News Corp. and 21st Century Fox chairman Rupert Murdoch, Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Bob Iger, CBS CEO Les Moonves, Time Inc. chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes, Viacom CEO Philippe Dauman, and DreamWorks SKG CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg. Some relative newcomers to the annual retreat include Alibaba Group CEO and the richest man in China Jack Ma and Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer. Rounding out the tech contingent include Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos and Apple CEO Tim Cook.
Some observers speculate that telecom companies could see some deal action at the conference – AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Verizon Communications CEO Lowell McAdam are expected to attend, although Verizon has said it has no intention to buy a big media company. Discovery Communications CEO David Zaslav, a regular conference attendee, is expected to have a full dance card at the retreat as his company has been among the top programmers expected to be searching for deals.
Allen & Co., has held the annual week-long retreat since the 1980s, where moguls can mix a day of golfing, hiking, kayaking, and fishing along with deal-making. Some legendary deals have come out of the conference – including Disney’s 1995 purchase of Cap-Cities ABC -- and some recent deals include Comcast’s 2009 NBC Universal joint venture with General Electric (Comcast bought out the rest of the partnership in 2013) and Bezos’ purchase of the Washington Post for $250 million last year.