Apple to Buy Netflix? Here's Why That's Unlikely

It may be just too big a purchase.

Getty Images / Gareth Cattermole

Apple could have a nearly incomprehensible amount of cash to burn in 2018 thanks to Donald Trump’s big tax cut, and one analysts’ report speculates the tech giant could make a game-changing acquisition by purchasing Netflix. There’s more than a little room for skepticism here, however.

Analysts from the investment bank Citi suggested there is a “40 percent chance” that Apple buys Netflix in 2018. That’s because Trump’s new tax law would allow the company to bring $220 billion in cash back into the country that was previously held offshore. That’s more than enough to buy Netflix for an estimated $75 billion.

Superficially, this would make some sense, as adding Netflix would let Apple grow its current limited supply of entertainment options, which is mostly just iTunes. The Citi analysts argue Apple would use this money newly laying around to buy the hybrid studio and streaming service.

“The firm has too much cash – nearly $250 billion – growing at $50 billion a year. This is a good problem to have,” Citi analysts Jim Suva and Asiya Merchant say. “Historically, Apple has avoided repatriating cash to the US to avoid high taxation. As such, tax reform may allow Apple to put this cash to use. With over 90 percent of its cash sitting overseas, a one-time 10% repatriation tax would give Apple $220 billion for M&A or buybacks.”

Regardless, the chances of it happening are pretty slim, despite potential urge to buy big after Disney’s recent earth-shattering acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

For one, Apple has already done some shopping during this quarter, acquiring music-recognizing app Shazam last month for an unconfirmed sum of $400 million. Its past acquisitions have also been focused on music, for example buying Beats Music for $3 billion in 2014 to venture into music streaming and hardware. Note that none of these come close to the $75 billion needed to buy something like Netflix.

Besides, when it comes to producing film and television, the move to put all its eggs into Netflix’s streaming basket isn’t very Apple-y.

The company has reportedly invested $1 billion toward creating original scripted TV shows, with the first one starring big A-listers Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. Diverging away from that focus to buy Netflix for the reported $75 billion doesn’t make a lot of sense, Forbes notes.

Even the Citi analysts allow that there is a 60 percent chance that this deal will never happen, but Apple’s track record suggests the odds might be quite a bit higher than that.

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