Jason Kilar told WarnerMedia employees on Thursday that he has no plans to step down as CEO for the next 12 months, an individual with knowledge of his remarks told TheWrap.
“My plan and my focus is to remain here in my CEO role at WarnerMedia. I am not thinking right now about post-merger. There will be a time to consider that topic in 2022,” Kilar told employees, according to the individual. “Because I believe we have unfinished business and the work of the next year can and should be extremely fulfilling as the world continues to see what we are capable of doing.”
Shortly after the announcement last week that AT&T would spin off WarnerMedia into a merger with Discovery, TheWrap reported that Kilar was negotiating his exit, and had hired a legal team, after only a year leading the company. Kilar did not know about the merger until a few days before it was announced.
Discovery CEO David Zaslav is set to lead the spun-off company, which is expected to reveal its name in the coming weeks. Kilar’s address on Thursday was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.
Kilar earned $52.1 million during his first (and now only) year leading WarnerMedia, which dwarfed his boss, AT&T CEO John Stankey. Kilar took home more than $49 million in stock swards, on top of his base pay of $1.67 million. However, that $49 million will vest over the next four years. Kilar’s yearly compensation package was to be around $17 million going forward. Industry experts believe his exit package will be well beyond that sum.
The deal, which is expected to close in mid-2022 subject to regulatory approval and a vote by Discovery shareholders, will create an entertainment juggernaut that seeks to rival Netflix and Disney. It also puts the likes of Warner Bros., CNN, Turner and Discovery’s stable of nonfiction networks and two competing streaming services, Discovery+ and HBO Max, under one roof. WarnerMedia’s U.S. sports rights, including for the NBA, MLB and March Madness, will also be combined with Discovery international sports giant Eurosport.
Under the terms of the all-stock agreement that was announced last week, AT&T will receive $43 billion (a figure subject to adjustment) in a combination of cash, debt securities and WarnerMedia’s retention of certain debt, and AT&T’s shareholders will receive stock representing 71% of the new company. Discovery shareholders will own 29% of the new company, which Zaslav said would announce its new name in coming days. The boards of directors at both companies have approved the merger.