Discovery, AT&T close WarnerMedia deal
April 11, 2022
By Colin Mann
Discovery and AT&T have closed their transaction to combine the WarnerMedia business with Discovery. The new entity, Warner Bros Discovery, will begin trading on the Nasdaq with the start of trading on April 11th, under the new ticker symbol ‘WBD’.
Warner Bros Discovery will create and distribute the world’s most differentiated and complete portfolio of content, brands and franchises across television, film and streaming. The new company combines WarnerMedia’s premium entertainment, sports and news assets with Discovery’s non-fiction and international entertainment and sports businesses, including Discovery Channel, discovery+, Warner Bros. Entertainment, CNN, CNN+, DC, Eurosport, HBO, HBO Max, HGTV, Food Network, Investigation Discovery, TLC, TNT, TBS, truTV, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, New Line Cinema, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, Turner Classic Movies and others.
“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,” declared David Zaslav, Warner Bros Discovery chief executive officer. “With our collective assets and diversified business model, Warner Bros Discovery offers the most differentiated and complete portfolio of content across film, television and streaming. 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.”
“We are at the dawn of a new age of connectivity, and today marks the beginning of a new era for AT&T,” added John Stankey, AT&T chief executive officer. “With the close of this transaction, we expect to invest at record levels in our growth areas of 5G and fibre, 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. We expect to invest for growth, strengthen our balance sheet and reduce our debt, all while continuing to pay an attractive dividend that puts us among the top dividend paying stocks in America.”
“In WarnerMedia, Discovery inherits a talented and innovative team and a dynamic growing and global company that is well positioned to lead the transformation that’s taking place across media and entertainment, direct-to-consumer distribution and technology. The combination of the two companies will strengthen WarnerMedia’s established and leading position in media and streaming. And our shareholders will now have a significant stake in Warner Bros. Discovery and its future successes. We look forward to seeing what the WBD team accomplishes with these industry-leading assets.”
Under terms of the agreement, which was structured as a Reverse Morris Trust transaction, at close AT&T received $40.4 billion (€37.15bn) in cash and WarnerMedia’s retention of certain debt. Additionally, shareholders of AT&T received 0.241917 shares of WBD for each share of AT&T common stock they held at close. As a result, AT&T shareholders received 1.7 billion shares of WBD, representing 71 per cent of WBD shares on a fully diluted basis. Discovery’s existing shareholders own the remainder of the new company. In addition to their new shares of WBD common stock, AT&T shareholders continue to hold the same number of shares of AT&T common stock they held immediately prior to close.