AT&T's (T -3%) interest in Time Warner (TWX +7.8%) progressed quickly from "had talks" to "advanced talks" and now a deal could be set by Monday -- which Bloomberg says is due to a sped-up timetable caused by Bloomberg's initial report.
That's because AT&T is said to be concerned that the publicity could allow other interested suitors like Apple (AAPL -0.4%) or Alphabet (GOOG +0.3%, GOOGL +0.3%) to jump in -- and indeed Apple is said to be monitoring the deal talks, after it made its own approach to Time Warner a few months ago, The Wall Street Journal reports.
Those talks involved execs under Apple chief Tim Cook and didn't get beyond a preliminary stage. A source tells the WSJ that Google doesn't look interested in an offer for Time Warner.
But the story of the deal points out just how much behind-the-scenes strategic talk is going on in the media/telecom spaces, as companies vie to be among the new leaders in an upended, converged digital media climate.
Sumner Redstone was said to be considering not only the merger of CBS (CBS +2.1%) and Viacom (VIA +2.7%, VIAB +2.8%) that he's already pushing for, but also to combine that entity with Time Warner.
Meanwhile, Comcast (CMCSA -0.5%) could join another company to get involved, the WSJ says, though that makes more sense if Time Warner's open to being parted out.
Unlikely to join in this time: Twenty-First Century Fox (FOX +2.2%, FOXA +2.2%), whose own pursuit of Time Warner failed in 2014 at $85/share, and Walt Disney (DIS +1.1%).
Twitter shares have given up the day's gains after hours, -5.5%. Apple is up 0.3% in late trading.
A source says Twitter should have "low expectations" of an offer from Apple. And with Google reportedly not moving forward, that may leave the driver's seat open for Salesforce.com (CRM -5.8%), whose stock appears to drop the more it talks about buying Twitter. But Disney (DIS -0.2%) is still in the mix (or at least doesn't have as many sources tamping down reports of its interest).
A Reuters report earlier said that Twitter would look to end sale discussions by the time of its Q3 earnings report, Oct. 27.
Twitter has moved up 3% after hours following the news.
Gathering actual bids suggests the sale of the company is much closer than before. And while Salesforce (CRM +3%) would love to make a splash by acquiring Twitter's voluminous data, Google (GOOG +0.5%, GOOGL +0.3%) and Disney (DIS +0.1%) are expected to be part of the action too, according to WSJ's sources.
Twitter has untapped potential in advertising, e-commerce and data-rich applications, Salesforce chief Benioff figures -- though he may also be motivated by losing out to Microsoft in a race to buy LinkedIn. And at a price of $20B or more, it would be tougher to swallow for Salesforce (market cap of $49.2B) than for Alphabet ($539.9B) or Disney ($148.2B).
Adviser hiring never means anything definite, but it does suggest the search giant is taking seriously the news and speculation that Twitter could be sold to any number of other companies, including Salesforce.com, Walt Disney or even AT&T.
Twitter had hired Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co. to go over potential bids after getting interest from Salesforce. Meanwhile, Lazard served as adviser for Google as it agreed to acquire Apigee for $625M this month.
Now officially linked in to wide-ranging speculation about who might buy Twitter (TWTR -3.2%): AT&T (T -1.5%).
A purchase by AT&T could make sense, Mizuho's Neil Doshi writes, but he thinks Twitter's valuation is such that an acquisition doesn't really add up for anybody. He's downgraded TWTR to Underperform, with a price target of $15 (Twitter shares closed today at $22.96).
If not great fits, the best fits for a Twitter purchase are Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) and AT&T, "but that is about it" and "only Alphabet makes sense from a strategic perspective."
Fundamentals at Twitter have "deteriorated significantly" over the past year, Doshi says. Verizon's paying about six times EV/EBITDA for the core of Yahoo (growing almost as fast as Twitter in many respects), while Twitter trades near a multiple of 16. Microsoft is buying LinkedIn for 20 times, though LinkedIn is growing much faster than Twitter.
Meanwhile, Nomura reiterated a Neutral rating on Twitter and price target of $13, while Loop Capital downgraded to Sell from Hold, with a price target of $18.
With Salesforce (reportedly working with Bank of America) (CRM -0.2%), Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL) and The Walt Disney Co. (DIS -1.3%) rumored to be in the mix, Twitter (NYSE:TWTR) is said to be gearing up to present itself to potential acquirers.
While a bid by Salesforce is seen as unlikely and unfavorable by some (Citi, Morgan Stanley), last Friday it appeared firmly in the mx. Alphabet, meanwhile, is considered a favorite by others, with the available cash, advertising expertise and social network tie-in possibilities to make Twitter work under a new parent organization. Now that Disney is the latest to reportedly join the group, sports, distribution and video prospects are being weighed.
Trading up more mildly than Friday's run on this development, it appears analysts, investors and Twitter itself are unsure of what direction the company will take next. The negative reaction of Salesforce shares on Friday and Disney shares today, though, may signal difficulty in attaining favorable terms for all parties involved in a deal should one come closer to materialization.
Update (3:41 PM ET): CNBC's David Faber adds Microsoft (MSFT -0.8%) in as a potential bidder.
Google's cloud businesses SVP Diane Greene: "Instead of the doctor phoning a prescription into the pharmacy, they can use an app that talks to the pharmacy through an API. Apigee easily enables this by providing a comprehensive API platform that supports secure, stable, multi-language, dev, test, publish and analytics capabilities."
Further, in a blog post: "APIs — the mechanism developers use to interface and integrate with outside apps and services — are vital for how business gets done today in the fast-growing digital and mobile marketplace. They're the hubs through which companies, partners and customers interact, whether it's a small business applying online for a loan or a point of sale system sending your warranty information to the manufacturer."
Orbitera offers a cloud marketplace designed for businesses (specifically independent software vendors, service providers and IT channel organizations) to buy and sell software in a streamlined and scalable environment.
Billing, packaging and pricing processes are automated through the platform. 60,000+ enterprise stacks have already been deployed.
From Google's (GOOG, GOOGL) announcement: "Looking to the future, we're committed to maintaining Orbitera's neutrality as a platform supporting multi-cloud commerce. We look forward to helping the modern enterprise thrive in a multi-cloud world."
Specific terms of the deal have not been divulged.
Level 3 Communications (NYSE:LVLT) closed today up 3.5% after touching a 52-week high on news that it's looking into strategic alternatives -- which could include a buyer from outside telecom.
Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) is speculated to be a possibility among suitors, but so is Google (GOOG, GOOGL), with whom Level 3 signed an interconnection agreement earlier this year.
Citigroup analysts Michael Rollins and Neth Wiedemann can't confirm the reports, but they love the stock ("top pick within our coverage group given its growth, financial flexibility, valuation, and strategic optionality") and float another candidate: rival Zayo Group (NYSE:ZAYO).
Zayo could itself be an attractive target for a cableco, but "We also would not dismiss the possibility that Level 3 and Zayo could consider a merger scenario to become a larger competitor for the enterprise market against the incumbents AT&T and Verizon Communications."
The tech giant will integrate Anvato's team and technology into its Google Cloud Platform group.
Anvato, founded in 2007, delivers services around Internet video (encoding, editing, publishing and distribution) for customers that include a number of TV content/station owners (NBCUniversal, Fox Sports, Scripps Networks, Media General, Univision), and it helped deliver the live stream of Super Bowl XLVIII in 2014.
With tomorrow's deadline arriving for bidders for core assets of Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), the long-shot bid of Time Inc. (NYSE:TIME) won't be among them, as the company decided fixing the business was too big a task, The Wall Street Journal reports. (It would have also faced severe leveraging trying to swallow the business.)
With a number of bidders bowing out as expected, Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is indeed a front-runner among the few firms moving forward. Aligning somewhat with a number of other media reports (and rumors), now bowing out for sure are Alphabet (GOOG, GOOGL), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), AT&T (NYSE:T) and IAC/InteractiveCorp (NASDAQ:IAC), the Journal says.
It appears Verizon's biggest competition may come from private equity (Bain Capital, TPG, Advent International), reinforcing the strength of Verizon's bid. It was unclear whether KKR would stay in the bidding, and the Daily Mail (OTCPK:DMTGY) may still be in, but with P-E help.
Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO) shares have jumped into positive ground, now up 1.2%, on news that Verizon (NYSE:VZ) is proceeding with a bid for its core assets.
Shares were down as much as 2.6% today.
Alphabet unit Google (GOOG, GOOGL) is also weighing its own bid, Bloomberg reports, with interest also showing up from Bain Capital and TPG. Time Inc. (NYSE:TIME) is still out there as well.
AT&T (NYSE:T) and Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA) are losing interest, Bloomberg also said, with Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) also deciding it wouldn't bid.
Verizon might also put in for Yahoo's Japan interests, the report said.
Updated 3:06 p.m.: After a big spike into positive ground, Yahoo shares have gone negative again, -0.1%. Verizon is said to value the core business at less than $8B, vs. Yahoo's hopes for a $10B valuation, and has engaged three banks.
Alphabet/Google (GOOG -0.5%, GOOGL -0.6%) "has assembled an early working list of possible acquisition targets in enterprise that include a number of startups," sources tell Re/code. The site cautions talks have been preliminary thus far.
E-commerce software/services firm Shopify (SHOP +3.1%), which has a $2.2B market cap and claimed over 243K merchant clients as of Q4, is reportedly on Google's list of potential targets. Xactly (XTLY +3.6%), a provider of cloud-based employee compensation software that sports a $187M market cap. Other names include Callidus (CALD +5.1%), a provider of enterprise sales/marketing software with an $843M market cap, Metavine, a provider of cloud services that help companies develop business apps, and Namely, a cloud HR software firm. Shopify and Xactly are trading higher.
Re/code notes the list is filled with companies that have strong exposure to mid-sized businesses. Google reportedly wants to buy cloud software/services firms serving the mid-market in order to strengthen Google Apps and migrate the acquired companies' platforms to the Google Cloud Platform (cloud infrastructure and app hosting).
Google's efforts are said to underscore "the broad edict and influence" new cloud chief Diane Greene has within the company, as the Web giant attempts to gain ground in cloud infrastructure against Amazon and Microsoft. CRN reported on Wednesday Apple (an Amazon and Microsoft cloud client) has signed up for the Google Cloud Platform.