David Zaslav Declines to Endorse Biden or Trump, Says It’s More Important That Next U.S. President Supports M&A Deregulation

Warner Bros

Published Time: 10.07.2024 - 20:31:29 Modified Time: 10.07.2024 - 20:31:29

Warner Bros. Discovery CEO calls Skydance-Paramount deal 'good for the industry'

David Zaslav, chief executive officer of Warner Bros. Discovery, did not state a preference about whether President Biden or Donald Trump win the 2024 election. Instead, his bigger concern is that whoever occupies in the White House greases the skids for more entertainment industry consolidation.

At Allen & Co.’s annual summer meetup for billionaires and business moguls in Sun Valley, Idaho, Zaslav on Tuesday was asked about the presidential election. Zaslav told reporters at the gathering that it was more important to him that the next president is business-friendly rather than which candidate wins, per Bloomberg.

“We just need an opportunity for deregulation, so companies can consolidate and do what we need to be even better,” he said.

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Under the Biden administration, the Justice Department and the FTC have been far more aggressive in seeking to use antitrust laws to crack down on alleged anticompetitive deals and business practices than the agencies were during Trump’s time in office. In May 2024, for example, the DOJ sued Live NationandTicketmaster, seeking to split the two apart, for allegedly abusing monopoly power to dominate the ticketing business and thwart competition.

Zaslav has previously said that WBD-owned CNNneeded become a news network that presents “both sides” of every political issue rather than being a “left-leaning” “advocacy network.” Last year, Zaslav defended CNN’s decision to host a town hall with Donald Trump, saying that Trump, as the Republican front-runner, “has to be on our network.”

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p> On the topic of M&A, Zaslav at Sun Valley also weighed in on the pact reached by Shari Redstone and Paramount Global to merge with David Ellison’s Skydance Media, saying that it’s “good for the industry.”

“Getting Paramount Global in solid hands and having them funded — it’s a great company and a great heritage, so I think that’s good for the industry,” Zaslav said.

Zaslav in late 2023 had met with Bob Bakish (then CEO of Paramount) to brieflydiscuss the idea of merging WBD and Paramount Globalbut those talks did not go anywhere.

At an investment conference this spring, Zaslavsaid Warner Bros. Discovery will be “opportunistic” in seeking M&A deals in the next two or three years. “There are a lot of players that are losing a lot of money,”Zaslav said May 30at the Bernstein 40th Annual Strategic Decisions Conference. “There’ll be some players that want to get out of the business, that will look to consolidate their streaming businesses with others,” he said, adding that he believes there will be four or five dominant global streaming platforms as things shake out.

Paramount Global’s trio of co-CEOs who are currently running the company ahead of the expected Skydance deal close in Q3 2025 have said they are seeking out potential joint venture partnerships for Paramount+ in order to gain economies of scale. One potential dance partner is Warner Bros. Discovery, which is open toexploring a combination of Max and Paramount+.

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