Deal: AT&T’s WarnerMedia To Merge With Discovery

WarnerMedia logo

A very historic deal has been formalized in the media and telecom industries and it’s a merger between two heavyweights. It’s a merger of AT&T’s WarnerMedia division and media conglomerate Discovery Inc. to form one of the largest media companies on US soil.

Details:

  • AT&T has announced that its WarnerMedia division is merging with Discovery with a deal that’ll see it receive $43bn on its end. 
  • For the merger, AT&T is spinning off major WarnerMedia properties including CNN, TNT, TBS, HBO, and the Warner Bros. film and television studio to merge with Discovery, which owns major properties including Animal Planet, TLC, the Food Network, and Discovery Channel.
  • WarnerMedia is a much bigger company compared to Discovery and thus makes up 71% of the new combined entity while Discovery makes up the remaining 29%. After the merger, current AT&T and Discovery shareholders with own these respective percentages of the combined company.
  • The combined company will be led by current Discovery CEO David Zaslav. It’s unclear what happens to WarnerMedia head Jason Kilar, as he was not mentioned at all in the press release announcing the merger.
  • The merger is expected to close in the middle of next year.

Highlights:

  • Spinning off WarnerMedia highlights that AT&T didn’t find many synergies with the media powerhouse after it paid $85bn to acquire its predecessor Time Warner in 2018. Then, the huge purchase was challenged by some heavyweight shareholders including activist investor Elliott Management.
  • It also appears that AT&T is keen on spinning off less profitable assets in order to focus on its core telecom business. Earlier this year, it spun off its DirecTV business into a separate entity that then got a major ($1.8bn) investment from private equity firm TPG. 
  • It’s as if telecom giants like AT&T are generally not seeing much profit and use for their media operations and selling them off to focus on their core businesses. Just recently, AT&T rival Verizon also did the same by selling off its media division which includes Yahoo and AOL to a private equity firm.
  • The combined company of WarnerMedia and Discovery will be a more formidable rival to the likes of Disney, Comcast, and ViacomCBS in a very competitive media climate.

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