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Hulu bids come down to the wire

July 8, 2013

By Chris Forrester

Hulu is now in the final straight as far as bids are concerned. One widely-reported bidder, Silver Lake Partners, has pulled out. This final round wrapped on July 5th but the US Independence Day holiday weekend seems to have kept many potential working hard if only ensuring that their cash is lined up.

Hulu is owned by Disney, 21st Century Fox and Comcast.

Sources suggest that despite Silver Lake’s withdrawal, there are plenty of players still interested. Two names dominate: DirecTV, the USA’s giant DTH pay-TV broadcaster, which seems perfectly happy to pay $1 billion – or more – for the Hulu name.

Same with the Peter Chernin-backed bid (Chernin was one of Hulu’s founder-backers when he ran News Corp). Chernin’s offer is a lot less than DirecTV, at around $830 million in cash but would assume more than $300 million in debt, taking the total value of the bid to well over $1 billion. Chernin is using AT&T as his partner, and cash cow, for the bid.

It is not clear as to whether a Time Warner-backed bid for the whole business will proceed. Another widely reported bidder is Yahoo, although is said to have found the bidding too rich.  Guggenheim Digital, which amongst other ventures publishes The Hollywood Reporter, is another potential bidder said to be still willing to cough up more than $1 billion.

Hulu and its advisors must now weigh up the assorted bids, and the impact a new owner would have on Hulu’s existing management. Unfortunately, more than a few senior folk have already abandoned Hulu.  The OTT broadcaster has 4 million monthly subscribers paying $7.99 a month for its Hulu+ movies and programming options.

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