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.