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Murdoch's 21st Century Fox withdraws Time Warner bid

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox has withdrawn its offer to purchase Time Warner Inc. The move would have merged two of the world's largest media-entertainment conglomerates.

The estimated $80 billion (60 billion euro) bid was abandoned on Tuesday after Time Warner "refused to engage with us" and news of the attempted takeover was hurting 21st Century Fox share prices, said Fox chairman and CEO Murdoch.

"The reaction in our share price since our proposal was made undervalues our stock and makes the transaction unattractive to Fox shareholders," the media mogul said in a statement.

"These factors, coupled with our commitment to be both disciplined in our approach to the combination and focused on delivering value for the Fox shareholders, has led us to withdraw our offer," Murdoch added, saying the decision was made even though the deal "had significant strategic merit and compelling financial rationale."

The surprise move came three weeks after Time Warner, which owns the Warner Bros. movie studio and TV channels like TNT, TBS and HBO, revealed it had rejected a $76 billion buyout offer from 21st Century Fox.

Following the withdrawal of the latest offer by 21st Century Fox, which owns the 20th Century Fox movie studio, Fox broadcast network and TV channels Fox News and FX, their board approved a plan to spend $6 billion on buying back stock.

Had the deal gone ahead, 21st Century would have had to bring itself in line with anti-trust laws. The conglomerate was reportedly planning to spin off news channel CNN, rival to Fox News.

Murdoch last year split his media empire into two firms: 21st Century Fox and News Corp, which runs The Wall Street Journal, as well as other newspapers in Britain and Australia.

dr/lw (AFP, AP, Reuters)