AT&T CEO Promises "Creative Freedom" as Time Warner Deal Closes

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Jeff Bewkes will remain as a senior advisor for an unspecified length of time during a "transition period," and all of his direct reports will now report to John Stankey, CEO of AT&T's media business.

AT&T said late Thursday it has completed its takeover of Time Warner, and, in a memo to employees, Randall Stephenson, chairman and CEO of the telecommunications giant, promised his new colleagues at HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. that they would "continue to have the creative freedom and resources to keep doing what you do best." 

"It's been a long time coming," Stephenson said in his memo, "but well worth the effort: AT&T and Time Warner are now one company — a truly modern media company that will create the best entertainment and communications experiences in the world."

He continued: "I think you'll find we have a lot in common. Like you, we take immense pride in what we do. And we have a passion for always doing the right thing and supporting our communities. We're big fans of your talent and creativity."

The closing came ahead of next week's deadline after the Justice Department said it wouldn't ask the court to postpone the deal after a judge's decision to allow the merger.

AT&T said its structure now consists of four businesses: AT&T Communications; AT&T International; its advertising and analytics business; and the media business that houses HBO, Turner and Warner Bros. This group, which will get a new name later, had revenue of $31 billion in 2017.

Jeff Bewkes, the former CEO of Time Warner, will remain as a senior advisor for an unspecified length of time during a "transition period," and all of his direct reports will now report to John Stankey, CEO of AT&T's media business.

AT&T said Thursday that since the merger has officially closed, it now sports $180.4 billion in net debt.

Each Time Warner investor received 1.4 shares of AT&T for each share of Time Warner they owned, plus $53.75 in cash for each share.

Two days prior to Thursday's close of the merger, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled against the government's attempt to block the transaction after a six-week trial.

AT&T had previously promised certain conditions should the merger be allowed, including that Turner would be part of a separate business unit, apart from the segment that includes DirecTV and U-verse.