With less than three weeks until the annual Allen & Co. conference, the media mogul set is entering deal heat. All sorts of things get discussed at these gatherings, of course, and this year should be no different. Presumably there will be lots of whispering about the fates of Hulu, ESPN, and Paramount Global, a perennial favorite, as well as the next strategic steps for Bob Iger and Brian Roberts. But one of the most intriguing possibilities being discussed among the M&A crowd on Wall Street pertains to whether David Zaslav might be willing to unload CNN.
CNN, to be clear, isn’t for sale. And senior executives at Warner Bros Discovery will reasonably go out of their way to profess their commitment to the network and to the news business, especially after the very public turmoil of the Chris Licht era and his recent sunrise defenestration in Central Park.
Nevertheless, nothing is ever for sale until it’s for sale: To wit, exploratory and hypothetical exercises are standard banker fare long before actual material conversations emerge and term sheets are distributed. That’s what bankers do. And indeed, bankers have recently been calling prospective buyers to gauge their interest in CNN, according to sources familiar with those calls.