It’s not just activist shareholders who want to see big changes at Time Warner. Two of the New York media giant’s largest longtime investors are also running out of patience and would support a sale of all or parts of the company, The Post has learned. Time Warner Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes was slated to meet with one of the company’s biggest investors last week as he tries to head off a potential proxy fight, sources said.
He is scheduled to meet with another top investor this week. “These guys want to see change,” referring to a sale, said one source with direct knowledge of the situation. “Everyone wants a change there.
” Time Warner declined to comment. The meetings come as activists circle the company. Already one activist has taken a position in Time Warner, according to a source who declined to name the fund.
Several sources said they believe Carl Icahn, who waged a battle a decade ago to break up Time Warner, is buying up shares and will take another run at the company. Icahn did not return calls seeking comment. that former Icahn protégé Keith Meister, the head of Corvex Capital Management, is building an activist position in Time Warner.
In 2006, Icahn unsuccessfully pushed Dick Parsons and No. 2 Bewkes for a Time Warner breakup. After Bewkes rose to the top job two years later, he followed Icahn’s blueprint and spun off several of its businesses, including Internet unit AOL, Time Warner Cable and the Time Inc.
publishing division. While Bewkes has streamlined the company, he rebuffed a 2014 takeover bid from 21st Century that valued Time Warner at . Fox denied last week it had made a new offer to buy Time Warner, home to HBO, cable networks TBS and TNT and the Warner Bros.
film studio. Shares of Time Warner closed Friday at $71. 17, roughly where they were before 21st Century made its bid.
The shares were trading as low as $65. 52 just a week ago before shooting up on hopes that activists might force a sale. Time Warner shares have been slumping, along with the rest of the media sector, on fears that programmers won’t be able to command big rate hikes from distributors as more cable customers cut the cord.
Traditional is also facing growing competition from streaming services. There is speculation that Amazon, which is ramping up its Prime video streaming service, would be interested in buying the Time Warner. The situation could come to a head soon with all of Time Warner’s board seats coming up for election this year.
Activists could spark a boardroom battle by nominating their own slate of directors, starting in late February, sources said. That doesn’t give Bewkes much time to appease restless shareholders. Nevertheless, Bewkes just his contract to stay on another three years — a sign that he has the backing of the board.
His deal includes a “golden parachute” in the event the company is sold..