No Buying Sprees Seen For Time Warner

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While it stands to reap a $9.25 billion windfall from the separation of its Time Warner Cable unit by the end of the year, Time Warner chief financial officer John Martin said that investors shouldn’t expect the media giant to go hog wild on the acquisition front.

Speaking at the Merrill Lynch U.S. Media Conference in London, Martin said Time Warner will likely make acquisitions in the coming year, adding that the media giant will be extremely disciplined when evaluating potential deals.

As part of the planned spin-off of its Time Warner Cable unit, Time Warner Inc. stands to receive a special dividend of $9.25 billion. That deal is expected to close by the end of the fourth quarter.

“We are not going to go on a buying spree,” Martin said at the conference, adding that the priority for the company is to invest in growing its existing businesses.

Time Warner has been named as the possible suitor for The Weather Channel, which is expected to attract a price between $3.5 billion and $4 billion. While Martin said that the channel would be an “interesting” fit, especially with its CNN news network, he added that Time Warner would be “extremely price disciplined,” in any deal.

Martin also appeared to play down speculation that Time Warner would attempt to acquire NBC Universal, echoing CEO Jeff Bewkes’ comments last week.

Asked if owning a broadcast network would be helpful, Martin replied “I don’t know and I don’t think so.”

“Given the decline in ratings across the major broadcasters and given the secular issues facing that industry, it doesn’t really compel us to want to jump into that,” Martin added.

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