WarnerMedia CEO John Stankey has put his name to the on-the-record denial, an unusual move for a major media company. The newspaper had claimed that AT&T had held internal discussions about a sale of HBO Europe to help pay down its debt.
“We normally do not comment on speculation, but when a news outlet is advised that their reporting is factually incorrect and report it anyway, we feel compelled to set the record straight,” said Stankey. “There is no truth whatsoever to the Financial Times’ story saying AT&T is or has considered selling HBO Europe. It’s completely baseless and inaccurate. HBO Europe is a valuable asset for our growth plans in Europe.”
HBO Europe has been aggressively growing its original programming business across the region with recent commissions including Foodie Love from Isabel Coixet, director of Emily Mortimer-fronted feature The Bookshop, Spanish horror series 30 Coins from Álex de la Iglesia and spy drama The Sleepers starring Beauty and the Beast Hattie Morahan and Arrow star David Nykl.
Run by CEO Herve Payan, the business was unified in 2015 after starting its original programming buildout in Central and Eastern Europe. As well as airing HBO series in markets across Europe, excluding the UK, Germany and Italy, where Sky acquired the rights, it runs channels in Central, Eastern and South East Europe as well as in the Nordic markets and the Netherlands.