Jason Kilar, the CEO of WarnerMedia, is reportedly negotiating his way out of the company after being frozen out of merger talks between AT&T and Discovery.
The industry was stunned when AT&T announced that it planned to spin off WarnerMedia and its associated entertainment assets into a standalone company with factual giant Discovery.
The new company, which will be 71% owned by AT&T, will be helmed by Discovery CEO David Zaslav.
In the wake of this announcement, The New York Times reports that Kilar, who joined WarnerMedia in April 2020, is looking for a way out of the company after he was “kept in the dark about the deal until recent days.”
The former Hulu boss Kilar joined WarnerMedia a month before the company rolled out its major streaming service HBO Max, with a view that his experience of more than five years at a competitor would help it expand. A year after its launch, HBO Max has just under 10 million subscribers.
Kilar has also been central to WarnerMedia’s wholescale restructuring to focus on streaming, with thousands of job losses in the past year. In November, he admitted the reorg was “painful but critical” to his company’s future.
The exec responded to the announcements with a positive memo to WarnerMedia staff, but it appears Kilar sees no future for himself at the new company. The deal is not expected to close until mid-2022, giving Kilar time to negotiate a healthy exit package.
Speaking on a conference call following the merger’s announcement, AT&T CEO John Stankey said that “David [Zaslav] has got a lot of decisions to make on personnel and how things are structured moving forward during this transition period.”