Time Warner in market for targeted buys

Thu May 27, 2010 7:50pm EDT

* Time Warner has "appetite" for movies, TV

* Unlikely to acquire a broadcast TV network

* Wants to fix CNN prime-time ratings

* Shares closed up 4.8 pct at $30.94

By Jennifer Saba

NEW YORK, May 27 (Reuters) - Time Warner Inc (TWX.N) Chief Executive Jeff Bewkes said he has "plenty of appetite" to invest in the TV and movie business, following his recent headline-making deal to land late-night star Conan O'Brien.

Bewkes and other top executives, in an all-day session with investors on Thursday, emphasized "targeted" acquisition possibilities to help bolster existing businesses, after the company spun out AOL (AOL.N) and Time Warner Cable (TWC.N).

Time Warner is unlikely to pursue a splashier deal for a broadcast TV network, like Walt Disney Co's (DIS.N) ABC or CBS Corp's (CBS.N) CBS, Bewkes said.

"We wouldn't rule out anything as things come up in the world," he said. "I think the likely answer is probably not."

While Time Warner is much more streamlined these days, investors still asked executives if they planned to sell more assets including Time Inc. The publisher of Time, People and Sports Illustrated magazines took a hit in 2009 as advertising revenue fell.

Bewkes put to rest for now the possibility of a sale, saying Time Warner plans to keep Time Inc because it is in the "attractive lead position" in the content business.

The Washington Post Co WPO.N put its Newsweek magazine up for sale, citing several years of losses. [ID:nN05244922]

Time Warner has been on the defense about the prime-time ratings slide of CNN. Phil Kent, chairman and CEO of Turner Broadcasting, said they want to turn around that decline but he did not elaborate. Kent added that "ratings are only one part of the story."

Media reports have surfaced again that CNN and CBS are in talks for a potential partnership to produce news.

During a CBS shareholder meeting on Wednesday, Chief Executive Les Moonves said that while the companies have a good relationship there is nothing happening right now in terms of a larger deal. [ID:nN26200893]

This is Time Warner's first investor day since the spin-offs of AOL and Time Warner Cable. In December 2009, AOL split off from Time Warner, putting an end to nine tumultuous years of one of the most disastrous corporate mergers in history. Time Warner Cable was separated in early 2009.

Time Warner has since been making moves in acquiring talent, including wooing Conan O'Brien to TBS. In addition, Turner Broadcasting signed a joint $10.8 billion deal with CBS for the media rights of the NCAA's men's Division I college basketball tournament in April.

(Reporting by Jennifer Saba; Editing by Phil Berlowitz)