AT&T announced that it sold its 9.5 percent stake in Hulu back to the streaming video joint venture for $1.43 billion.
The transaction that valued Hulu at $15 billion did not require any governmental or other third-party approvals and was simultaneously signed and closed, AT&T said.
AT&T is preparing to launch its own subscription streaming video service to retain its phone customer and boost data business on 4G and 5G platforms. The video streaming market will see pricing competition.
“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,” said Hulu CEO Randy Freer.
AT&T will use proceeds from this transaction, along with additional planned sales of non-core assets, to reduce its debt, the wireless carrier said on Monday. AT&T has total debt of $176.5 billion at the end of 2018.
The sale of AT&T’s 9.5 percent stake to Hulu in a cash deal gives Walt Disney Co, which holds 60 percent stake in Hulu via a joint venture, more control of the company.
Comcast’s NBCUniversal has 30 percent stake in Hulu. Based on the joint venture agreement, Disney and Comcast will decide how they want to allocate the shares bought from AT&T.
Hulu, which competes with Netflix 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, Reuters reported.
Hulu’s total value has now grown 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. Based on Monday’s stock market closing price, Netflix is valued at $152 billion.
Walt Disney last week forecast Hulu’s subscribers to reach 40 million to 60 million by fiscal 2024 and the company would become profitable in the United States by 2023 or 2024.