Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes says the Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) spinoff “is on track to get executed in early 2009. … We don’t see any problems really from any side of the transaction.” That should mean an $11 billion payout for all shareholders is still on the way — including $9 billion for parent Time Warner (NYSE: TWX). It also means a return to a content-centric company. Bewkes is the lunch speaker at the UBS Global Media and Communications conference.
So will TW spend some of that money on acquisitions? Bewkes splashed as much cold water on the idea as possible, without completely ruling out the possibility: “I don’t want to rule out sensible acquisitions but I would think the history of our company and the media industry in general would cause concern if not done effectively.” He came back to the same message a couple of times, blaming poor acquisitions for destroying value. ( If you follow the “guns don’t kill people, people kill people” theory, that would mean executives making bad decisions or poorly executing integration destroy value.) More after the jump
– David adds: The ripple effect: While the recession has brought a new level of pressure on Time Warner, Bewkes said that a this year’s restructuring of its film division and last month’s streamlining of Time Inc. into three groups should help it weather another difficult year. In general, Bewkes said that overall, Time Warner has less exposure to the advertising downturn than other media companies, saying that most of the revenue comes from subscriptions and distribution deals. Still, the magazines, and AOL will continue to be squeezed, while the bankruptcy of Circuit City will cut into its DVD sales. Bewkes also expects a ripple effect from other companies pain, such as Tribune Company’s Chapter 11 filing, as Time Warner distributes its programming to its TV stations.
– Video game investments: Asked if video games are part of Time Warner’s long-term part of growth strategy, Bewkes said that video games are increasingly important. But mostly video games will continue to play an ancillary role, supporting its movies like The Dark Knight, the second feature film in the Batman franchise that was released as a DVD this week. But Bewkes is not interested in any big acquisitions in the video game space. “We’re not trying to go head-to-head against Sony (NYSE: SNE) or Nintendo.”