And then there were two. Hulu, a month ago owned by four major media companies – Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and AT & T / Werner Media – will now be owned by Disney and NBCU. AT&T and Hulu have signed a deal for AT&T to sell their minority stake in Hulu back to the video streaming joint venture.
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The transaction valued Hulu at $ 15 billion, with AT&T being 9.5% interest worth $ 1.43 billion.
After Disney's last 71.3 billion US purchase of 21st Century Fox assets, including its stake in Hulu, Disney became a majority stake in the joint venture by about 60%, followed by NBCU (30%) and WernerMedia. The two remaining owners must now allocate the WarnerMedia 9.5% share. The conventional split will be according to Disney and NBCU's current ownership (2: 1), but everyone will be negotiated between the two sides in the coming weeks.
Hulu has become a central part of Disney's portfolio and was featured during the company's major direct consumer presentation last week. Today's transaction will undoubtedly burn further speculation that Disney could become Hulu's only owner.
"We thank AT & T for their support and investment over the past two years and look forward to working together in the future. WarnerMedia will remain a valued partner for Hulu for many years to come, offering customers the best of TV, live and on request, all in one place, says Hulu CEO Randy Freer.
The transaction does not require any government or other third party approvals, and was simultaneously signed and terminated.
AT&T will use proceeds from this transaction, along with further planned sales of non-core values, to reduce debt after It was $ 85 billion acquisition of Time Warner last year.
AT & T SVP and CFO John Stephens last month said growing WarnerMedia and reduced debt are the company's main priorities. Telenor closed the Time Warner deal with $ 180 billion in debt, had shaved $ 9 billion by the end of 2018 and had said it would spend another $ 12 billion in free cash flow to continue paying it down.