WarnerMedia has emphatically denied a story published by the Financial Times that its new owner AT&T was mulling a sale of HBO Europe in a bid to reduce its US$170 million debt following the US telco’s acquisition of Time Warner.
“We normally do not comment on speculation, but when a news outlet is advised that their reporting is factually incorrect and report it anyway, we feel compelled to set the record straight. There is no truth whatsoever to the Financial Times’ story saying AT&T is or has considered selling HBO Europe. It’s completely baseless and inaccurate. HBO Europe is a valuable asset for our growth plans in Europe,” said WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey in a statement.
The FT had reported that HBO was one of several assets that AT&T has considered selling, although it has not held formal talks with potential buyers. The newspaper cited unnamed sources as saying that there had been internal talks around the possibility of a sale, and that had caused tension between AT&T and WarnerMedia executives.
HBO is seen as a crown jewel amongst WarnerMedia assets and a key weapon in enabling it to compete with Netflix.
WarnerMedia has undergone a series of management changes since AT&T’s acquisition of the unit. HBO CEO Richard Plepler stepped down in March and Robert Greenblatt, former chairman of NBC Entertainment, was named as chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and direct-to-consumer
Amidst concerns about the future of HBO following Plepler’s departure and WarnerMedia’s plans to launch a broader streaming offering, following the announcement of Greenblatt’s appointment, Stankey told the Hollywood Reporter that the management changes were not about cost-cutting.