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Apple Exec Raised Prospect of a Bid for Time Warner (Report)

LONDON — Apple expressed interest in buying Time Warner, the owner of HBO, CNN and Warner Brothers, in a meeting held late last year, according to a report in the Financial Times Thursday.

The paper claims Eddy Cue, who oversees Apple’s iTunes store, Apple Music and iCloud, raised the subject of a potential bid in a meeting with Olaf Olafsson, Time Warner’s head of corporate strategy, in New York. The Financial Times cites three people who were briefed on the discussion.

The discussion about a purchase did not progress any further, and never included Apple’s chief executive Tim Cook nor Time Warner boss Jeff Bewkes. Apple and Time Warner declined to comment.

Cue’s meeting had been set up to explore various commercial relationships between the companies, such as the potential inclusion of Time Warner’s cable channels in a future Apple video-streaming service.

Sources tell Variety that the notion of Apple and Time Warner potentially establishing deeper ties, ranging from content partnerships to a merger, surfaced among execs on both sides last year while the companies worked on the launch of the HBO Now broadband service. But sources stressed there has not been any movement toward a formal bid or negotiations.

Apple has historically been shy of diving into the traditional content business. Bewkes has been vocal about wanting to keep the company focused on content production and distribution.

HBO Now launched in April 2015 as a three-month exclusive distribution partnership with Apple, which helped build ties between the two companies.

Cynthia Littleton contributed to this report.

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