AT&T-owned WarnerMedia and Discovery have merged to form Warner Bros. Discovery, a "premier standalone global media and entertainment company". The merger between WarnerMedia and Discovery was first announced in May 2021. According to press statements then, the merger will see AT&T receive US$43 billion in cash and debt securities. Meanwhile, AT&T shareholders will receive stock representing 71% of Warner Bros. Discovery, and Discovery shareholders will own the remaining 29%. As at close, AT&T received US$40.4 billion in cash and WarnerMedia's retention of certain debt.
According to a statement by Warner Bros. Discovery, the merger combines WarnerMedia’s premium entertainment, sports and news assets with Discovery’s leading 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, TBS, Travel Channel, MotorTrend, Animal Planet, Science Channel, New Line Cinema, Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Turner Classic Movies, among others.
Warner Bros. Discovery will also begin trading on the Nasdaq as “WBD”, effective 11 April 2022.
David Zaslav, CEO, Warner Bros. Discovery said that it is confident that it can bring more choice to consumers around the globe while fostering creativity and creating value for shareholders. "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. I can’t wait for both teams to come together to make Warner Bros. Discovery the best place for impactful storytelling," he added.
Additionally, AT&T's CEO John Stankey said that the merger of the two companies will strengthen WarnerMedia’s established and leading position in media and streaming. Meanwhile, AT&T plan to use the funds from the transaction to "invest at record levels" in its growth areas of 5G and fiber, while sharpening its 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.
Warner Bros. Discovery also its executive leadership team ahead of the company's launch. Among the company's new appointments include Jean-Briac Perrette as CEO and president, global streaming and interactive entertainment, as will as David Leavy as chief corporate affairs officer. In his new role, Parrette will be responsible for HBO Max and discovery+, as well as all D2C and gaming around the world. He was formerly president and CEO, Discovery networks international. Meanwhile, Leavy, formerly chief COO at Discovery, will oversee key business functions and groups, including corporate relations, global government relations and public policy, corporate marketing, global communications, corporate research, events and social responsibility.
Additionally, Warner Bros. Discovery said it will name a new chief diversity, equity and inclusion officer at a later date. The role will report jointly to the CEO, and chief people and culture officer Adria Alpert Romm. The Company is also actively searching to fill the role of chair and CEO for Warner Bros. Discovery Sports, reporting to the CEO.
Separately, Cartoonito, WarnerMedia’s home entertainment brand for young children, debuted in the Asian market as a dedicated morning programming block on Cartoon Network. Cartoonito first arrived on Japanese TV on 1 March, and launched in Southeast Asia and Korea on 28 March. Tentpole shows in Southeast Asia and Korea include Lucas the Spider, Esme & Roy and Dino Ranch. In addition to these is a growing slate of new and library series in a line-up that celebrates individuality and champions creativity and compassion – part of Cartoonito’s educational and humancentric learning approach. The programming block is curated and designed to appeal to a larger demographic of kids, as young as two years old. “While Cartoon Network typically appeals to kids of about five years old and up, Cartoonito encourages a co-viewing experience so the block will also be popular with parents and caregivers,” WarnerMedia's spokesperson told MARKETING-INTERACTIVE then.
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