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WHO CAN AFFORD TO BUY ANYTHING ANYMORE?: It’s been a quiet year for mergers and acquisitions in the media world, but if any deals get done before yearend they’re likely to be fairly modest. “…It is all about the price and it’s about the right price rather than some of the stupid prices that have been paid and some of the deals that shouldn’t have been done,” said Jeff Zucker, president and chief executive officer of NBC Universal. Zucker joined Steven Rattner, managing principal at Quadrangle Group, and Mel Karmazin, chief executive of Sirius Satellite Radio Inc., to talk about the impact of today’s economy on the media merger and acquisitions landscape at a Portfolio breakfast on Tuesday.
Zucker said NBC Universal has been active in M&A during the past 16 or so months but nothing is planned in the near future; however, he didn’t dismiss a report that he’s interested in DreamWorks. “If it’s available, look, obviously it’s a great company, and if it’s really available it’s something that we would really consider but again it would have to be on the right terms and the right structure,” he said.
Rattner said NBC Universal’s purchase of the Weather Channel and Bloomberg’s buyback of Merrill Lynch’s stake are the only multibillion-dollar deals that have gotten done all year. “It’s been an incredibly slow year for the media M&A landscape and I think what’s happened in the last few days is simply going to exacerbate that and you are going to have less availability of credit,” said Rattner. “I think the banks, which were pretty much out of business before this week are now almost completely out of business. You’re going to have more economic uncertainty because people are now even more worried about the state of the economy and whether we’re headed into a recession or not and therefore I think we’re going to have more reluctance on the part of strategic fires to step up at this particular moment before we know where the dust is going to settle and you have, you know, issues on advertising and other things that are clouding the picture as well.” — Amy Wicks