Hulu buys back AT&T’s stake in $1.43 bln deal

The move gives Walt Disney Co, which holds a 60 percent stake in Hulu via a joint venture, more control of the company. (AP)
Updated 16 April 2019
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Hulu buys back AT&T’s stake in $1.43 bln deal

  • The deal implies Hulu’s total value is some $15 billion
  • Disney and Comcast will decide on how they want to allocate the shares bought from AT&T

Hulu is buying back wireless carrier AT&T Inc’s 9.5 percent stake in the US entertainment streaming service in a deal valued at $1.43 billion, the two companies said on Monday.
Hulu, which competes with Netflix Inc. and Amazon.com’s Prime Video, has more than 25 million subscribers and is expected to lose $1.5 billion in the current fiscal year.
The deal implies Hulu’s total value is some $15 billion — up from a reported $5.8 billion in 2016, when Time Warner — now a part of AT&T — bought the stake. Netflix at the time had a market capitalization of about $41 billion and is currently valued at $152 billion as on Monday’s close.
The move gives Walt Disney Co, which holds a 60 percent stake in Hulu via a joint venture, more control of the company.
Comcast Corp’s NBCUniversal has a 30 percent stake. Based on the joint venture agreement, Disney and Comcast will decide on how they want to allocate the shares bought from AT&T.
It was unclear how the deal could affect content on Hulu in the immediate future. AT&T is preparing to launch its own subscription streaming video service.
Hulu Chief Executive Officer Randy Freer said in a statement that “WarnerMedia will remain a valued partner to Hulu for years to come as we offer customers the best of TV, live and on demand, all in one place.”
AT&T did not respond to a Reuters request for comment on the structure of the deal.
The wireless carrier said it would use the proceeds from the deal to cut down its debt, which stood at $176.5 billion at the end of 2018.
The company had said in November it could consider selling its stake in Hulu and review its non-core assets in 2019.
Disney last week forecast Hulu’s subscribers to reach 40 million to 60 million by fiscal 2024 and become profitable in the United States by either 2023 or 2024.


Gulf stocks extend losses on tanker attacks

Updated 17 June 2019
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Gulf stocks extend losses on tanker attacks

  • Cautious mood among investors as fears of military confrontation rise

DUBAI: Stock markets in the Gulf extended losses on Sunday reflecting a cautious mood among investors following last week’s oil tanker attacks. 

The attacks on the tankers in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday raised fears of a military confrontation in a vital shipping route for global oil supply and heightened tensions between Iran and the US, which have been in a standoff over Iran’s nuclear program. 

The Saudi index had dropped 1.6 percent on Thursday and fell a further 0.6 percent on Sunday after slight gains in early trade. Most Saudi banks were down, despite Sunday’s announcement by Saudi British Bank that its merger with Alawwal Bank was completed. 

HIGHLIGHTS

• Gulf stocks reverse early gains.

• Gulf of Oman tanker attacks dampen investor mood.

• Saudi banks mostly down despite SABB-Alawwal merger.

The two banks have combined to create the country’s third largest lender, becoming a single listed company after regulatory approvals. SABB’s shares shed 0.1 percent. Alinma Bank, however, gained 0.4 percent, and was one of the stocks registering the highest trading volume on Sunday. 

In the UAE, the Dubai and Abu Dhabi indexes fell 0.7 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively. The Dubai market had risen earlier in the day, boosted by DAMAC Properties and Union Properties, which closed up 2.2 percent and 0.5 percent, respectively. But heavyweight Emaar Properties, the largest developer in the emirate, fell 2.5 percent, weighing on the index. 

Dubai’s telecom operator Du (Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Co) shed 0.4 percent, reversing earlier gains, after it said the UAE sovereign wealth fund Emirates Investment Authority had increased its stake by buying 463.3 million shares from Mamoura Diversified Global Holding and General Investments. 

In Abu Dhabi, blue chip companies Aldar Properties, First Abu Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company for Distribution, led losses, dragging down the main index. The other Gulf markets were all in the red, except for the Bahrain index, which rose slightly. 

In Egypt, the index gained 0.2 percent, boosted by a 4.5 percent gain by Pioneers Holding Company for Financial Investments. The company said one of its divisions, Arab Dairy Products, had received a letter of intent from a Netherlands based company about a plan to buy it.