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AT&T-Discovery Deal, Named ‘Columbus,’ Started With a Text (1)

May 17, 2021, 10:42 PM

The media industry’s biggest M&A deal in years started with a text message about golf.

Discovery Inc. Chief Executive Officer David Zaslav shot the note to AT&T Inc. CEO John Stankey during a weekend in February, bemoaning the fact that Covid-19 would keep them from meeting up at an annual golf tournament in Pebble Beach, California. That sparked a two-hour conversation that laid the groundwork for a tie-up between the two companies -- and the end of AT&T’s costly foray into the entertainment world.

They kept the talks quiet in the following months, even as the companies brought in bankers ...