With Ruper Murdoch what you see is usually what you get. While the old boy is capable of springing big surprises from time to time, they’re always in character.
But his decision to pull 21st Century Fox’s $80bn bid for Times Warner (the price goes up and down depending on the Fox share price) is both a surprise and out of character. Rupert doesn’t usually give up so soon.
Fox says Fox had “refused to engage with us to explore an offer which was highly compelling.” In which case Murdoch’s usual response would be say we’re going to buy you anyway.
Later today both Fox and TW (which also owns HBO) will announce quarterly earnings figures and it may be that Fox’s will disappoint, thereby increasing pressure on its shares (it’s mostly a share offer). Fox shares had fallen 11 per cent since the offer was announced last month (they rose seven per cent after hours on news of the abandoned deal), meaning the market either didn’t like the look of the deal or thought that Fox would be borrowing too much for the cash component.
Still, this wussy behaviour on the part of Murdoch is still a surprise.
Some analysts are speculating that Murdoch will return with another bid when Fox shares fully recover. The company has announced another big share buy-back operation.