Discovery’s merger with WarnerMedia could take effect as early as Friday

The formation of Warner Bros. Discovery is almost complete.

As Variety’s Jennifer Maas first reported Tuesday, the pending merger between Discovery and WarnerMedia could “close,” in Wall Street parlance, as early as the close of business on Friday. (WarnerMedia is the current parent of CNN, and CNN will be part of this new media behemoth.) A person familiar with the matter confirmed to Brian Stelter and me that Friday’s schedule is possible.

Companies have been planning for this moment for most of the year. In recent weeks, Monday the 11th has been tentatively marked as the closing date. Now it could be a few days before.

Discovery and AT&T are not commenting publicly. But there are plenty of signs that the deal is being completed quickly, with David Zaslav taking charge of the business. On Tuesday, AT&T officially began its spin-off process from WarnerMedia, executing a stock dividend that will give shareholders some shares of the new company. AT&T shareholders will control 71% of Warner Bros. Discovery. “This is going to be the most exciting story in the industry for years to come,” Jessica Reif, a high-profile industry analyst, told Yahoo Finance.
The spinoff was accompanied by WarnerMedia CEO Jason Kilar, who formally announced that he would be leaving the company on Friday. “With the pending transaction with Discovery nearing closing, now is the right time to share with each of you that I will be leaving this incredible company,” Kilar told employees in a memo Tuesday.

In his note, Kilar called directing WarnerMedia “the honor of my life.” Some of his key lieutenants also leave, making way for Discovery.

Kilar’s lasting mark on Warner

In his tenure as CEO, Kilar brought a new streaming-age mindset to a set of companies, including HBO and CNN, that were historically siloed and focused on cable and satellite relationships. We talked about it last week when he was with the technical team running the launch of CNN+. The three keys in this new world, he said, are customer acquisition, engagement and retention: hooking subscribers, keeping subscribers coming back for new and engaging content, and giving them reasons not to cancel. I know that sounds like common sense to some, but it requires a major mindset shift for traditional media companies.

Speaking on CNBC, Kilar said his advice to leaders at Warner Bros. Discovery would be to “begin and end with storytelling and stick to that fabric, and also recognize what works really well, which is clearly the broadcast side of things.” of business and games. business side.” Kilar said he had “no grand proclamations” to share about his own future, but said, “I’m not going to a beach to reflect or retire…”.

Sarnoff and Forssell also prepare to leave

“The closing credits are rolling for WarnerMedia’s senior leadership,” the WSJ’s Joe Flint wrote on Tuesday.
Warner Bros. CEO Ann Sarnoff, who has led the studio since 2019, will be leaving at the same time as Kilar, the NYT’s Brooks Barnes reported, citing three sources and saying a formal announcement will be made soon. Like Kilar, she wrote, Sarnoff “found himself without a seat in the game of musical chairs that accompanies the merger of competing companies.” While the new structure is “yet unknown”, Zaslav is expected to take over “at least part” of the portfolio from him.
HBO Max boss Andy Forssell is also parting ways with the company, Variety’s Matt Donnelly and Jennifer Maas reported. As Deadline’s Anthony D’Alessandro and Dade Hayes reported, “It was widely speculated that Discovery streaming chief JB Perrette would take over the newly merged company’s combined direct-to-consumer streaming operation even before the exit.” de Forssell became official”. All that said, HBO content chief Casey Bloys is expected to stay on, D’Alessandro and Hayes reported…

Leave a Comment