Is David Zaslav Dumps Warner Bros. Shares: Cashing Out or Preparing for a Merger?

Is David Zaslav Dumps Warner Bros. Shares: Cashing Out or Preparing for a Merger?

Warner Bros. Discovery’s CEO, David Zaslav, has recently undertaken a stock sale, totaling around $9.5 million, to cover taxes. The transaction, executed at $11.40 per share, was disclosed in a Securities and Exchange Commission filing. This move is in line with required tax withholding, as confirmed by a source within Warner Bros. Discovery.

This isn’t the first time Zaslav has made such a sale for tax purposes. A similar-sized transaction occurred on January 10, 2023. The most recent sale on January 8, 2024, preceded a 0.5 percent drop in WBD shares, closing at $10.97 on Wednesday.

Zaslav’s decision to withhold shares comes at a time when Warner Bros. Discovery is under the spotlight, following a meeting with Paramount Global CEO Bob Bakish in December to explore a potential merger. It’s worth noting that Zaslav’s stock transactions impact his overall compensation package, which heavily relies on performance stock options tied to WBD’s financial performance and debt reduction.

In 2022, Zaslav’s compensation package, after the completion of the Discovery-WarnerMedia merger in April, amounted to $27.2 million. This is a notable decrease from his 2021 pay package of $69.6 million, which was linked to the merger of WarnerMedia and Discovery. The surge in 2021 compensation was driven by a May 2021 employment agreement, securing Zaslav’s presence at the company until the end of 2027. His future compensation is contingent on WBD shares increasing from their current valuation.

Despite ongoing efforts to achieve profitability in streaming through substantial cost-cutting, WBD’s stock price remains below its early streaming wars highs. The studio continues its journey toward profitability, navigating the challenges of the competitive streaming landscape.

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