And then there were two. Hulu, which was owned by four major media companies just a month ago – Disney, 21st Century Fox, NBCUniversal and AT & T / Werner Media – is now co-owned by Disney and NBCU. AT & T and Hulu have entered into a contract whereby AT & T sells its minority interest in Hulu to the video streaming joint venture.
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The deal was valued at $ 15 billion for Hulu, with AT & T earning $ 1.43 billion at 9.5%.
Following the recent acquisition of 21st Century Fox by Disney in the amount of $ 71.3 billion, including its stake in Hulu, Disney took the majority stake in the joint venture with approximately 60%, followed by NBCU (30%) and Werner Media. The two remaining owners must now assign WarnerMedia's 9.5% share. The conventional split would be according to the current ownership of Disney and NBCU (2: 1), but all will be negotiated between the two sides in the coming weeks.
Hulu has become an integral part of Disney's portfolio and was featured in the company's large presentation series last week. There is no doubt that today's transaction is further speculation that Disney may eventually become the sole owner of Hulu.
"We thank AT & T for their support and investment over the past two years and look forward to future collaboration. WarnerMedia will remain a valued partner to Hulu for many years as we offer our customers the best of television, live and on-demand, all in one place, "said Hulu CEO Randy Freer.
The transaction did not require any regulatory or other third party approvals and was signed and finalized at the same time.
AT & T will use the proceeds from this transaction, along with additional planned sales of non-core assets, to reduce its debt after Time Warner acquired $ 85 billion last summer.
AT & T SVP and CFO John Stephens said last month that WarnerMedia's growth and debt reduction are the company's top priorities. The Telco closed its $ 180 billion Time Warner debt, saving $ 9 billion by the end of 2018, and said it would require another $ 12 billion in free cash flow to continue paying the amount.