Imagine a scenario where AT&T, with its plummeting share value and impending $30 billion debt, was looking for a way out of the tailspin. And who might want to buy one of its most profitable and influential assets, CNN?
Perhaps the richest man in the world with ties to media.
Fox Business reported Tuesday that investment bankers have been speculating “pretty hot and heavy” that Jeff Bezos, chief executive of Amazon and owner of The Washington Post, was looking to buy CNN if AT&T puts the news network up for sale.
A source close to Bezos denied the report, according to Fox Business, and another Bezos source said, “There has been zero talk on this.” Bezos and AT&T spokespeople declined comment, but this sort of chatter is what often precedes such interest. At the least, it creates public interest.
Bezos, 56, has the estimated $10 billion that would be needed. Forbes said he is worth $200 billion. AT&T shares have dropped 31% this year, just as the S&P has risen 5%. Bezos’ Amazon operation has thrived during the pandemic as consumers turned to shopping online. Its share price has increased 50% since March.
Bezos’ past clashes with President Donald Trump could be an issue if Trump is re-elected, and pursuit of the purchase would be unpopular with Republican congressmen because of CNN’s left-leaning political analysis.
“It’s not shocking to see this corporation want less exposure to the news, but I’m a little surprised CNN would be the only asset to be sold given they have a much stronger digital platform than the rest of Turner’s properties,” LightShed Partners media and technology analyst Rich Greenfield told Fox Business.
But imagine a CNN tease for how to get through the pandemic with five hot buys on Amazon.