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Today marks the start of the latest Allen & Company conference in the sleepy Idaho resort of Sun Valley — and, as ever, there will be the possibility of deals being struck on the sidelines.
Some of the biggest names in tech and media, from Jeff Bezos of Amazon to Bob Iger of Disney, will be in attendance. (The nearby airport, as it tends to be at this time of year, will likely be jammed full of private jets.) They will arrive knowing that conditions are perfect for discussing a new round of deal-making.
The conference is tightly closed off from the public and reporters, and the relaxed atmosphere lends itself to early-stage negotiations. (Warren Buffett once said it was perfect for ABWA, or “acquisitions by walking around.”) The Sun Valley get-together has an impressive track record, as the breeding ground for Comcast’s acquisition of NBCUniversal, Mr. Bezos’s purchase of The Washington Post and Disney’s takeover of ABC/Capital Cities.
But what might shake out this year? Here are DealBook’s guesses about which attendees might strike up deal talks in between panel discussions, rounds of golf and drinks in the Sun Valley Lodge bar.
■ John Malone: The cable mogul is one of the most active deal-makers around. And as telecom giants increasingly look to combine with media properties to gain new sources of income — and fend off competition from Silicon Valley — analysts have wondered whether he and his companies, Charter Communications and Liberty Media, are on the hunt for a new property. Among his current interests are regional sports networks — some of which would be up for grabs as part of 21st Century Fox’s potential sale to Disney or Comcast — and Spanish-language outlets.
■ Masa Son: The SoftBank founder has amassed nearly $100 billion for his Vision Fund, which has invested in everything from Uber to the messaging service Slack to the dog-walking app Wag. Given his rather expansive vision, it’s possible that he could be interested in buying a media company. (He’s currently pursuing a bid to stage two new soccer tournaments with FIFA, and would like to take control of its gaming and merchandise rights.) Or perhaps he would also like to own all of Slack, after having already invested in the company. Its C.E.O., Stewart Butterfield, is an invitee as well.
■ Tim Cook: Apple’s chief has faced questions for years about what to do with the iPhone maker’s enormous cash hoard. (It stood at $163 billion in February.) The company has pledged to take that down to nearly zero — and one way to do that would be through acquisitions. Given that Mr. Cook and his team are pushing more heavily into content to compete with Netflix and Amazon, now might be the time to broach conversations with any of the media moguls in attendance.