Apple not interested in buying Time Warner at present: Sources

Apple is not interested in buying Time Warner at present, people familiar with the thinking at the company told CNBC on Wednesday.

There is no Time Warner bid coming from Apple at this point, sources said, although the regulatory process could last for months, and things could change.

Shares of Apple's were up half a percent in morning trading, while AT&T and Time Warner shares were little changed.

AT&T agreed less than two weeks ago to buy Time Warner for more than $85 billion, a blockbuster deal that could face regulatory scrutiny. The Wall Street Journal reported late last month that Apple had approached Time Warner about a combination a few months ago, but the discussions were only preliminary and didn't move forward.

Pedestrians walk past the Time Warner Inc. Center in New York on October 23, 2016.
Kena Betancur | AFP | Getty Images
Pedestrians walk past the Time Warner Inc. Center in New York on October 23, 2016.

The deal would give Time Warner properties— including Harry Potter, Batman, Superman and CNN — a direct distribution platform to AT&T's wireless customers. But politicians like Sen. Bernie Sanders and Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump have questioned whether the combined company would have too much concentrated power over the media.

"Combining with AT&T is the natural next step in the evolution of our business and allows us to significantly accelerate our most important strategies," Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes said in a statement Wednesday, after the company reported better-than-expected quarterly earnings and revenue.

Apple CEO Tim Cook and executive Eddy Cue had previously expressed interest in including Time Warner's cable channels in a future Apple video streaming service, according to the Financial Times.

In an earnings report last week, Cook said that owning and creating content was a good opportunity for Apple, and one the iPhone maker is focused on.

"I would confirm that television has intense interest with me and many other people here," Cook told investors on a conference call.