Discovery, WarnerMedia complete merger after investor vote

Discovery and AT&T's WarnerMedia have officially joined forces, consummating a merger that has been months in the making.

Discovery, Inc. and AT&T’s WarnerMedia finalized their merger on Friday after investors voted to approve the coupling of the two companies.

The approval came several days after news media reports speculated the merger could be completed on Friday and ends months of planning and action to combine the businesses.

As part of the merger, WarnerMedia’s former parent company, AT&T, spun off the entertainment subsidiary into a separate company. Immediately, the separated company merged with Discovery, Inc. to create a new entity, Warner Bros Discovery.

The combined company will be majority owned by AT&T’s shareholders and will bring unify Discovery and WarnerMedia’s brands — among them, HBO, Cinemax, CNN, TLC, the Discovery Channel, the Food Network, Animal Planet, TBS, TNT, the Cartoon Network, Eurosport, the Science Channel, the Oprah Winfrey Network and HGTV — under one roof.

David Zaslav, the chief executive of Discovery, will lead the new company.  The New York Times reported on Friday that Zaslav intends to move from New York City to Los Angeles in order to run the company.

“Today we begin to write an exciting next chapter for both companies as Warner Bros. Discovery, a pure-play storytelling company that brings together the most cherished content, brands and franchises,” Zaslav wrote in an email that was sent to employees of both companies on Friday.

Jason Kilar, the former chief executive of WarnerMedia under AT&T, resigned on Friday.

For AT&T, the move to separate itself from WarnerMedia will allow the telecom to focus on building out its wireless and broadband services, the company’s chief executive John Stankey said.

“We are at the dawn of a new age of connectivity, and today marks the beginning of a new era for AT&T,” Stankey said in a press release. “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.”

Stankey said the company’s renewed focus will help it “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,” Stankey said.

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