People/Biz

WarnerMedia-Discovery merger officially closes

The long-awaited mega-merger between Discovery and AT&T closed on Friday (April 8), combining the WarnerMedia business with Discovery, Inc. The product of the merger is the standalone media and entertainment company ...
April 8, 2022

The long-awaited mega-merger between Discovery and AT&T closed on Friday (April 8), combining the WarnerMedia business with Discovery, Inc.

The product of the merger is the standalone media and entertainment company Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. The company’s portfolio will include assets such as Discovery Channel and Discovery+, Warner Bros. Entertainment, CNN and CNN+, HBO and HBO Max, HGTV, the Food Network, Investigation Discovery, TLC, TNT, TBS, Travel Channel, Animal Planet, New Line Cinema, Science Channel, Turner Classic Movies and more, bringing them all under the same umbrella.

Warner Bros. Discovery will begin trading on the Nasdaq with the beginning of trading on April 11, under the ticker symbol WBD.

“Today’s announcement marks an exciting milestone not just for Warner Bros. Discovery but for our shareholders, our distributors, our advertisers, our creative partners and, most importantly, consumers globally,” Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in a news release.

“We are confident that we can bring more choice to consumers around the globe while fostering creativity and creating value for shareholders. I can’t wait for both teams to come together to make Warner Bros. Discovery the best place for impactful storytelling.”

AT&T CEO John Stankey added: “With the close of this transaction, we expect to invest at record levels in our growth areas of 5G and fiber, where we have strong momentum, while we work to become America’s best broadband company. At the same time, we’ll sharpen our focus on returns to shareholders.”

The agreement’s closing, which was structured as a Reverse Morris Trust transaction, brings in $40.4 billion in cash to AT&T, along with WarnerMedia’s retention of certain debt. AT&T shareholders received 0.241917 shares of WBD for each share of AT&T common stock they held at the closing of the deal. As a result, AT&T shareholders received 1.7 billion WBD shares, representing 71% of WBD shares on a fully diluted basis. Discovery’s existing shareholders own the rest of the company.

The merger’s closing comes at the end of a week that saw WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, along with Ann Sarnoff (chair and CEO of WarnerMedia’s studios and network groups) and Andy Forssell (EVP and general manager of HBO Max) announce they were departing their roles once the deal was closed. On Thursday (April 7), Discovery revealed details about the first members of the Warner Bros. Discovery leadership team.

The merger was first announced last May. At the time, the deal boasted a projected revenue in 2023 of approximately $52 billion, and adjusted EBITDA of approximately $14 billion.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for HMV.com. As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.

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