M&A Activity to Watch in Sun Valley

Sun Valley, Idaho
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Sun Valley, Idaho

The media moguls and tech titans have boarded their private jets and are heading to Sun Valley, Idaho, where the annual Allen & Co conference kicks off today.

With media & tech takeovers on the upswing — up dramatically over last year — everyone's wondering which deal will be this year's Comcast-NBC Universal merger, a deal that started in conversations at the gathering two years ago.

Media and tech companies from Microsoft to Time Warner have money to spend, and they're willing to divest of non-essential assets to help drive growth.

One company that's sure to be front and center is Hulu, which hired bankers Morgan Stanley and Guggenheim Partners to shop the streaming video site.

The company is less than halfway through its presentations to potential buyers including Microsoft, Yahoo, Google as well as DirecTV and DISH, but conversations are sure to heat up over the coming week since pretty much all the major players on the buy and the sell side will be in Sun Valley.

The CEOs of Hulu's three media company co-owners — CNBC parent NBC Universal, Walt Disney and News Corp. — are expected to send their CEOs. (NBC Universal agreed to give up its Hulu board seat as part of its merger with Comcast so it won't be actively participating in Hulu sale talk.)

The potential buyers will likely be out in force as well.

Hulu isn't the only asset NBC Universal has on the block: It has been in talks to sell its G4 video game channel to Ultimate Fighting Championship for as much as $600 million. NBC Universal declined to comment.

Some publicly traded companies could also be in play. AMC Networks is trading down but was only officially spun off from parent Cablevision on July 1.

Long before AMC, the network of "Mad Men" and "Breaking Bad," finalized its spinoff it has been considered a good match for a company with cable assets such as Time Warner, Viacom or News Corp.

The question Wall Street and media companies are trying to figure out is how much AMC is actually worth now that it is disentangled from Cablevision.


Reports have been circulating that TiVo could be bought for as much as $2.4 billion, or about $20 a share. The company's now trading around $10, so it's no surprise the reports on Friday sent TiVo soaring higher.

Two of last year's big potential acquisition targets — Groupon and Zynga — have recently filed to go public. Their CEOs, Mark Pincus and Andrew Mason, will be at the event, as they were last year.

Now that their S-1s have been filed the question is, who's the new guard? Quora's co-founder and co-CEO Adam D'Angelo is slated to attend Sun Valley. But since the company hasn't launched a revenue-generating business model yet, it's unlikely to be a takeover target just yet.

We'll see which other young guns make their Sun Valley debut to meet the old guard.

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