Discovery’s shareholders approved its coming merger with WarnerMedia on Friday, setting the stage for the two companies to combine in a matter of weeks.
With the shareholder approval, it marks “the completion of one of the few remaining closing conditions for the merger,” Discovery said in a statement.
The merger cleared a regulatory hurdle in February, making possible Friday’s shareholder vote, which had been widely expected to pass. John Malone, the billionaire chairman of Liberty Media, and the Newhouse family, which owns Condé Nast, control more than 40 percent of the vote among Discovery shareholders and gave the merger their blessing nearly a year ago. Both Mr. Malone and Steven Newhouse will hold board seats in the new Warner Bros. Discovery company.
When merged, the newly formed Warner Bros. Discovery will be one of the biggest media companies in the country, combining HBO, CNN and Warner Bros. movie and TV studios, with Discovery’s vast unscripted entertainment empire. It will also bring the HBO Max and Discovery+ streaming services under the same roof. CNN announced on Friday that its streaming service, CNN+, would debut on March 29 for $6 a month.
With the shareholder vote out of the way, there are only a few more steps before the deal can close. Discovery will continue going about raising more than $30 billion of debt for the new company. AT&T, the telecommunications giant that currently owns WarnerMedia, will need several more weeks to finish spinning off its entertainment division.
On Friday, AT&T executives looked quite ready to turn the page from their ill-fated foray into Hollywood. At a virtual meeting for investors on Friday, AT&T executives barely mentioned WarnerMedia, and focused instead on broadband and its wireless service. “We are near the starting line of a new era for AT&T,” John Stankey, the AT&T chief executive, said.