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The Three Amigos

July 18, 1996|SCOTT COLLINS

The Time Warner-Turner merger would affect millions of cable subscribers, but no one has more at stake than the new triumvirate of Time Warner Inc., Turner Broadcasting System Inc. and Tele-Communications Inc.

* Gerald Levin, Chairman, Time Warner Inc.

OK, so he's a longshot for Time's Man of the Year--at least in print. But this guy finally has something to crow about. That may help digest all the crow he's eaten. With stock pickers now salivating over Time Warner shares, Levin can spurn analysts and investors who badgered him over weak financial results. And, on a more personal note, he's finally realizing his long-held dream of building the world's largest media company. The only trouble is, he'd have to run the world's largest media company.

* John Malone, CEO, Tele-Communications Inc.

Don't feel bad for Malone. It's true he didn't get everything he may have wanted. Regulators forced TCI to limit its financial stake in Time Warner. But TCI can form a separate company to hold the stock and thereby increase its non-voting stake in the company. But Malone's got plenty of stuff to keep him busy--like serving 24% of the nation's cable homes.

* Ted Turner, Chairman, Turner Broadcasting System Inc.

What a great TNT movie Ted's life would make: "Riches to Richer." Some say he's still the boss, no matter what his new title would be. "In effect, Ted Turner has taken over Time Warner," said analyst Porter Bibb. Synergy, you say? Sure. Get ready for the Sports Illustrated-Turner Broadcasting sports network (with colorized swimsuits?). Of course, there's no telling how the new company would mix with Ted's entrepreneurial instincts or Jane's vacation plans. But wouldn't that biopic look great on HBO?

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