Media conglomerate Time Warner Inc. withdrew its bid to buy the Weather Channel after refusing to raise its offer, a source familiar with the negotiations told Reuters on Friday, leaving as the remaining bidder an investor group that includes NBC Universal.
Time Warner Chief Financial Officer John Martin told investors last week the company would be interested in pursuing a deal but would be "extremely price disciplined and price sensitive." It was not clear how much Time Warner had offered.
The deadline for a new offer passed at noon ET (1600 GMT) on Friday, leaving a consortium of General Electric's NBC Universal, Blackstone Group LP and Bain Capital as the only bidder.
The consortium offered an estimated $3.5 billion, sources said earlier, to buy the cable network owned by Landmark Communications that produces national, regional and local weather-related programming.
Sources previously told Reuters that NBC Universal, Blackstone and Bain would divide $1.8 billion of equity roughly equally in their bid, which would be worth about $3.5 billion, including debt. Blackstone's GSO Capital — a hedge fund firm specializing in leveraged debt — would provide about $600 million in debt, another source told Reuters.
The Weather Channel network serves about 96 million U.S. subscribers and can be seen in more than 97 percent of all cable television homes.
Time Warner declined comment. Landmark and NBC Universal could not immediately be reached.