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AT&T is considering switching off HBO Europe: FT
Posted on Wednesday, 10 April 2019 09:40
Ahead of the launch of one of the world’s most highly-anticipated shows, AT&T is holding internal talks regarding a potential sale of HBO Europe, several current and former senior executives told the Financial Times (FT).
The news comes ahead of next week’s premiere of the final series of Game of Thrones, one of the network’s most popular television programmes, and is said to be part of plans to cut down its USD 170.00 billion debt pile.
HBO Europe, part of the larger US HBO network, which also has assets in Latin America and Asia, was picked up by AT&T through its USD 108.70 billion takeover of Time Warner last year, a move that significantly increased its obligations.
The content creator, behind leading shows such as the Sopranos and Big Little Lies, is seen as one of the jewels of the media empire; however, there have been rifts with the cable company that have since resulted in the departures of chief executive Richard Plepler and revenue chief Simon Sutton.
People familiar with the situation over at AT&T told the FT that HBO Europe is among a number of other assets being touted for a sale.
One person added that the US leadership at the telecommunications group is so focused on the American side of the business that they do not see the scale the operations have in Europe.
As such, a potential disposal has been up for discussion since November, according to the insiders, who told the FT that while no formal talks have been held with prospective buyers, Sky would be an obvious partner given its existing relationship as the licenced distributor of HBO content in the UK, Germany and Italy.
An executive, said to be close to AT&T’s head Randall Stephenson and John Stankey, who was appointed to run the new rebranded WarnerMedia, said there are no plans to sell HBO Europe.
The cable provider is reportedly committed to cutting the heavy debt pile in 2019 through various measures, including a review of all non-core assets.
AT&T generated revenue of USD 170.75 billion in the year ended 31st December 2018, up 6.4 per cent from USD 160.55 billion in the previous 12 months.
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