Following a report over the weekend that 21st Century Fox and Discovery Communications were in very early stages of merger discussions, and quick denials from Fox, Discovery Communications president and CEO David Zaslav also threw a dash of cold water on the story on Tuesday.
During a televised phone chat with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo on the network’s Opening Bell, in which the Discovery head congratulated his longtime friend (and former employee during his tenure as president of NBC Universal Cable) on her one-year anniversary with the channel, Zaslav told Bartiromo: “There is no truth to those rumors.”
Zaslav did acknowledge that the company had worked with Fox senior executives Rupert, James and Lachlan Murdoch and Chase Carey in the past and that the companies have done business together. “We’ve looked at making some acquisitions together in Germany and Italy with Sky Italia and Sky Deutschland… We admire Fox.”
Over the weekend, the Australian Financial Review reported that Discovery Communications and 21st Century Fox were in very early stages of merger discussions close to two weeks ago, but that sources told the publication there was no guarantee that an offer to purchase the Silver Spring-headquartered global media company was imminent or that talks were still ongoing.
Fox, subsequently, denied the report and called it “categorically untrue,” which has been seconded by a Discovery exec to realscreen. Still, the report caused a ripple of excitement on Wall Street on Monday, with Discovery stock up by as much as 9% during early trading.