Wednesday 10 April 2019 1:08 pm

AT&T denies reports it is exploring sale of Game of Thrones producer HBO Europe

US telecoms giant AT&T has denied reports it is exploring the sale of HBO’s European division in a bid to slash its $170bn (£130bn) debt pile.

A Financial Times report stated executives have held internal discussions over the possible sale of HBO Europe, which produces hit TV series Game of Thrones, but have not yet held meetings with potential buyers.

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But the company has hit back at the reports, which it described as “baseless and inaccurate”.

“There is no truth whatsoever to the story saying AT&T is or has considered selling HBO Europe,” said Warner Media chief executive John Stankey. “HBO Europe is a valuable asset for our growth plans in Europe.”

AT&T took control of HBO as part of its $85bn takeover of Time Warner last year, after staving off a competition complaint from the US Department of Justice.

But the merger has sparked conflict within the TV network, and longstanding chairman Richard Plepler announced his resignation earlier this year.

HBO Europe is one of several key businesses AT&T has considered selling as it looks to cut its hefty debt load, according to the report.

The telecoms firm has unveiled plans to cut up to $20bn in debt this year, saying it would review all its non-core assets, including its stake in streaming service Hulu.

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Sky, which was acquired by Comcast last year, would be an “obvious buyer” for HBO Europe, the report stated, citing sources close to the companies. Sky currently has exclusive rights to air HBO content in the UK, Germany and Italy.

The mooted sale comes as the newly-formed Warner Media attempts to fight off competition from rivals such as Netflix, with plans for its own streaming service reportedly in the pipeline.