Discovery gets green light for WarnerMedia deal from EU competition watchdog
Discovery today announced that the European Commission has granted unconditional antitrust approval to its proposed acquisition of WarnerMedia assets from telecoms giant AT&T.
“Approval from the European Commission is a key milestone toward completing our proposed transaction with AT&T,” said Discovery president and CEO David Zaslav – the future CEO of the combined company.
“Today we move one important step closer to creating Warner Bros.”
Discovery said it expects to complete the WarnerMedia transaction in mid-2022, subject to other regulatory approvals and the go ahead from its shareholders. No approval is required from AT&T’s shareholder for the deal.
AT&T first revealed the $43bn deal to spin off WarnerMedia and merge it with Discovery in May, in a bid to create a major new media beast in the process.
Effectively, the tie-up is an acknowledgement that its gamble on WarnerMedia has not paid off, as the streaming market became a battle for scale, dominated by Netflix and Disney.
The US telecoms giant bought the media group, then known as Time Warner, for more than $85bn in 2018. But the new merger puts its price tag at roughly half of that.
The deal — one of the largest in the media sector in recent years — is tipped as the start of a second wave of consolidation and poses a clear challenge to the dominance of Netflix.