Time Warner eyes ‘long-term opportunity’ at besieged CME

The CEO of Time Warner has confirmed he may hand the embattled broadcaster Central European Media Enterprises a loan providing it is “fair” for shareholders.

BewkesJeff Bewkes (left) said yesterday: “We think CME has very interesting long-term opportunities. So while there’s no guarantee we will come to an agreement, we’ve been and remain very interested in what CME might do.”

However, he warned that any transaction must be “fair for our shareholders, and, certainly, it has to be fair to theirs”.

Last week CME’s management warned the broadcaster would be unable to operate in the next 12 months unless additional funding was secured, and as Time Warner is CME’s largest shareholder with a 49.99% stake, spotlight has fallen on the Warner Bros. owner.

One element in CME’s favour is its new co-CEO team of Christoph Mainusch and Michael Del Nin, whom Bewkes has placed his faith in. “We have confidence in the new management,” he said.

CME is planning to shed 1,000 jobs and will potentially sell “non-core” business operations in a bid to move the company to steadier footing, Del Nin revealed last week following financial results that saw it make a US$45 million Q3 operating loss and caused analysts to warn of a forthcoming cash crunch.

Bewkes was speaking to analysts on a conference call following third quarter financial results that saw Time Warner record revenue for the quarter of US$6.85 billion on improved year-on-year profit of US$1.19 billion. Revenue at the company’s cable channels business, which includes HBO and Turner Broadcasting, grew 5.4% YOY to US$3.52 billion, though its filmed entertainment business, which includes Warner Bros.’s television production business, fell 7% to US$2.7 billion.

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