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CEO Is At Center Of $43 Billion Deal To Merge Discovery, WarnerMedia

David Zaslav
David Zaslav Photo Credit: Discovery

The mastermind set to take over what would be one of the world’s largest entertainment conglomerates got his start as a high school graduate of New York's Hudson Valley.

On Monday, May 17, AT&T and Discovery announced an agreement to combine WarnerMedia’s assets with Discovery’s businesses to create a standalone entertainment company that will be led by Discovery CEO David Zaslav, a graduate of Ramapo High School in Rockland County.

Born in Brooklyn in 1960, Zaslav moved to the Hudson Valley at the age of 8. He was a captain of the Ramapo High School varsity tennis team. 

He has been the president and CEO of Discovery Inc. since January 2007.

Zaslav went on to play tennis at Cornell University for a year before transferring to SUNY Binghamton and graduating from law school at Boston University.

According to the companies, the new company “will compete globally in the fast-growing direct-to-consumer business, bringing compelling content to DTC subscribers across its portfolio, including HBO Max and the recently launched discovery+. 

“It will combine WarnerMedia’s storied content library of popular and valuable IP with Discovery’s global footprint, trove of local-language content and deep regional expertise across more than 200 countries and territories.”

Officials said that the deal, which is expected to close in the middle of 2022, will “be able to invest in more original content for its streaming services, enhance the programming options across its global linear pay-TV and broadcast channels, and offer more innovative video experiences and consumer choices.”

Under the groundbreaking agreement, AT&T is set to receive more than $40 billion in cash, debt securities, and WarnerMedia’s retention of certain other debts. The name of the new company has not been determined, and a management structure has not been announced outside of Zaslav at the top.

“Jason Kilar remains CEO of WarnerMedia,” AT&T CEO John Stankey at a press conference on Monday, May 17. “David’s got decisions on what he wants to do on who will be in what role moving forward.”

Zaslav said that the deal represents a big step forward for both companies, and that the two are better together than they are apart.

“During my many conversations with John, we always come back to the same simple and powerful strategic principle:  these assets are better and more valuable together,” he stated. "It is super exciting to combine such historic brands, world-class journalism, and iconic franchises under one roof and unlock so much value and opportunity.

“With a library of cherished IP, dynamite management teams, and global expertise in every market in the world, we believe everyone wins,” Zaslav continued. “Consumers with more diverse choices, talent and storytellers with more resources and compelling pathways to larger audiences, and shareholders with a globally scaled growth company committed to a strong balance sheet that is better positioned to compete with the world’s largest streamers.”

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