Discovery shareholders approve WarnerMedia merger
Discovery Inc. shareholders have approved the acquisition of the larger WarnerMedia, bringing the blockbuster combination one step closer to completion.
Shareholder approval was expected because Discovery had already secured the support from its two largest shareholders, which control more than 40% of the vote — cable pioneer John Malone and the Advance Newhouse media company.
The deal did not require the support of shareholders of AT&T, which currently owns WarnerMedia. AT&T investors will receive stock in the new entity.
The deal is valued at $43 billion.
New York-based Discovery now expects to absorb WarnerMedia — which owns HBO, CNN, TNT, Cartoon Network and the Warner Bros. film and TV studio — by the end of April. Discovery’s longtime leader, David Zaslav, will become chief executive of the soon-to-be named Warner Bros. Discovery media company.
Zaslav plans to take an office on the legendary Warner Bros. studio lot in Burbank and become immersed in studio business.
Discovery, also based in New York, owns Animal Planet, TLC, Food Network, Discovery, OWN, HGTV and Investigation Discovery. The company, a pioneer of the cable programming space, started as an outlet for educational programming.
The deal moved closer to fruition last month, when Discovery and AT&T said the time period had expired for the U.S. Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission to try to block the $43-billion merger, paving the way for the transaction to go forward.
The Justice Department’s approval clears the way for Discovery and WarnerMedia to merge this spring.
AT&T has been eager to exit Hollywood after its failed foray into the entertainment business. It previously spun off its DirecTV subsidiary.
Discovery said Friday that, based on preliminary voting results, its investors approved charter amendment proposals, a share issuance proposal and an advisory proposal on compensation. Discovery said in a statement that the approvals mark the completion of one of its few remaining closing conditions for the merger, which was announced last May.
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