The Sale of HBO® Europe Now in the Pipeline

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AT&T® has held discussions about selling HBO® Europe, as the Dallas-based telecommunications company tries to cut their $170 billion debt load, as per many former and present senior executives. Once HBO® was Time Warner’s media asset, but it became AT&T’s when the Telco giant acquired the media empire in 2018. However, there has been discord between the Texas-based fastest internet provider and the New York-based executives of it, which has led to the exits of HBO’s COO Simon Sutton and CEO Richard Plepler.

HBO® Europe is part of the many assets the company has considered selling, as per people close to the matter. HBO® also has divisions in Asia and Latin America. It has operated for decades in Europe, licensing its TV programming to pay-TV companies and local broadcasters across over 20 nations. HBO® Europe is regarded as a prized media asset by many executives at AT&T®. HBO® has produced many seasons of “Game of Thrones”. It has become a direct rival of Netflix in Europe, pushing its own streaming service as well as amassing around 10 million customers in nations comprising Sweden, Spain, Poland, and Denmark. In addition to distributing popular series, HBO also makes local-language programs and provides content created by other networks.

The Telecom giant has declined a request for comment, but a person close to its CEO Randall Stephenson and WarnerMedia’s CEO John Stankey has said that there was no definite intention to sell it. This information was contradicted by many senior executives, as they had knowledge of internal discussions about HBO Europe’s sale. Three individuals added that the Dallas-based company wanted no news concerning a likely sale of it to go public, because it could just result in further defections at its media arm.

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The contrasting stances underline the unrest as well as the turmoil which has followed the amalgamation of companies with extremely different corporate cultures. The Dallas-based AT&T® is a bigger company focusing on efficiencies, whereas WarnerMedia is its division that aspires to attain creative success.

The US leadership of AT&T® is actually “so focused on the American business,” that “they don’t see that HBO has a substantial business in Europe,” stated an individual who is close to its management in Europe. In fact, the Texas-based best internet provider has been thinking about selling HBO® Europe since November 2018, but it has not held formal talks with potential buyers, as per those familiar with this matter.

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