Mar 11, 2022 - Economy & Business

Discovery shareholders approve WarnerMedia merger

Discovery CEO David Zaslav by himself at the Allen And Company Annual Meeting
Kevin Dietsch/Getty Images

Discovery shareholders on Friday voted to approve a merger with WarnerMedia, the last major hurdle the companies had to cross before officially combining in mid-April.

Why it matters: The merger will give both media giants the scale needed to better compete in streaming.

  • The two media giants have already been granted regulatory approval to merge in the U.S. and Europe.
  • The results of the vote were never in doubt. Discovery's two biggest shareholders John Malone and Advance/Newhouse had both given their blessing for the deal. Together they control around 44% voting stake.

The big picture: The highly anticipated merger has been clouded by recent drama at CNN, the global news company owned by WarnerMedia.

  • Last week, Discovery named late-night producer and news vet Chris Licht as head of CNN Worldwide, following the abrupt and dramatic resignation of CNN chief Jeff Zucker.
  • Ahead of the shareholder vote Friday morning, CNN announced that its new streaming service CNN+ will launch March 29. Sources tell Axios that Discovery plans to rein in CNN’s spending on CNN+ after the merger.
  • So far, only Licht and Gunnar Wiedenfels, a longtime Discovery executive who will serve as chief financial officer of the combined operation, have been assigned leadership roles for the new, combined company.
  • Discovery is expected to announce more leadership roles in April.

What’s next: Discovery will need to raise around $30 billion from the debt markets, and AT&T will need to issue around 2 billion shares of stock before it can begin trading on the Nasdaq.

  • AT&T shareholders will own 71% of the combined company, and will receive 0.24 shares of the new company for each share of AT&T they hold.
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