Microsoft and CBS deny report they’re considering merger
NEW YORK (AP) _ Microsoft Corp. and CBS firmly denied a news report today that the giant software company was considering a takeover bid for CBS.
The New York Post reported that Microsoft and Montreal-based Seagram both have made preliminary expressions of interest in purchasing CBS. Seagram declined to comment when contacted by The Associated Press.
“There is no truth” to the report, said Pam Edstrom, a spokeswoman for the Redmond, Wash.-based software company. Edstrom said Microsoft has no interest in buying CBS, which would jeopardize its successful partnership with CBS rival NBC.
Microsoft has invested $220 million in its MSNBC cable news partnership with General Electric’s NBC.
Westinghouse Electric Corp., which owns CBS, said in a statement:
“There is no truth to the unattributed rumor reported in today’s New York Post story speculating on a possible sale of CBS; nor is any party examining our financial books as reported by the Post.”
Stock in Westinghouse initially jumped on the report but eased somewhat by early afternoon. It was up 94 3/4 cents, or 4 percent, at $24.06 1/4 on the New York Stock Exchange.
Citing sources close to the situation, the Post said four Microsoft executives are examining the books of the onetime ``Tiffany network,″ whose media operations have an estimated value of $14 billion.
Microsoft has some $9 billion in cash on hand.
A bid by Seagram, which owns Universal Studios, could be stymied by foreign ownership restrictions and another planned purchase by the company, the paper said.
Westinghouse has announced plans to split the company’s industrial holdings from its entertainment business. Sources close to CBS told the Post the company is not for sale, but the paper said there is impatience among Westinghouse investors at the company’s poor performance, which is blamed on CBS. Some investors might be receptive to a takeover bid, the Post reported.
In addition to giving Microsoft added distribution power and a source of entertainment content, ownership of CBS would give the company a voice in setting computer-friendly standards for upcoming digital television technology, the Post said.