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Mega mergers, opportunity spaces and leveraging tech at Discovery Inc.

Mega mergers, opportunity spaces and leveraging tech at Discovery Inc.

Podcast

Mega mergers, opportunity spaces and leveraging tech at Discovery Inc.

We spoke with Gunnar Wiedenfels, CFO of Discovery Inc. to ask him about his journey adopting digital management reporting solutions at the company.  What followed was a master class in seeing and seizing opportunity spaces and challenging the status quo with some astonishing results. 

When Wiedenfels took up his appointment as CFO at Discovery Inc. in 2017, CEO David Zaslav invited him to take four weeks to “take a good look at Discovery Inc.” and report back his fresh outside-in perspective. Zaslav didn’t have to ask twice.

One of the early observations Wiedenfels made was that the external financial reporting and internal management reporting was focused on high level profit and loss metrics, leaving, “a big gaping hole in the middle”. He saw that the company was not set up to manage for cash as he believed it ought to be. As Wiedenfels stated in a June 2021 interview by the Hollywood Reporter, “cash never lies”.

 

1. Outside in perspective

This observation was a trigger for change. And then came the $14.6 Billion Scripps acquisition, just months after Wiedenfels arrived in New York. “So that obviously created another huge opportunity because now I could share an outside in perspective on not only one new company, but two new companies at the same time.”

Following the acquisition, Discovery Inc. leadership took “a good step back, to think about how we would do things if we were setting this company up from scratch today.” An opening Gunnar described as, “an enormous opportunity space.”

 

2. First things first: innovate management reporting

One of the early improvements Gunnar and his team initiated was partnering up with Satriun to innovate management reporting at Discovery Inc., using the CXO cockpit, to deliver:

  • One version of the truth
  • Integrated financial data and management commentary
  • New opportunities for analysis and an accurate historical record

This collaboration proved to be a great success. “What’s amazing about Satriun is that I was 100% convinced that they’re delivering what they’re saying. They’re close enough to what’s actually happening, they know what they’re talking about, and they’re making a commitment. And I know that they’re not going to rest until it’s delivered, you know, in time and budget, and I had that experience so many times with Satriun’s executive team and… it’s amazing.”

The project has transformed the efficiency and depth of management reporting at Discovery Inc. During that early period of Gunnar’s tenure as CFO, he and his team achieved $1 Billion in cost synergies. It was reported that in that first year, 2017, the combined Discovery Inc. and Scripps firm reached $3.1 billion in free cash flow.

 

3. The mega merger for a new content powerhouse

Fast forward to 2021 and Discovery Inc. is now amidst a $43 billion mega merger with WarnerMedia – a combination that is tipped to create a new content powerhouse, and very possibly a new biggest player in the streaming landscape. The new entity, Warner Bros Discovery has already been branded as, “the stuff that dreams are made from.”

And if ever there was an opportunity to get the best out of tech, this is it. Wiedenfels shared some fascinating insights on this, both in terms of building a new streaming platform and combining the finance functions into “one new big future proof container.”

It sounds very much like opportunity spaces will keep on opening and the emergence of WarnerBros Discovery will certainly be a space to watch closely.

 

Want to hear the whole conversation?

Listen to our Calling Corporates podcast! Every couple of weeks we upload new interviews.

Finance. Transformation. Empowerment.

Finance. Transformation. Empowerment.

Events

Finance. Transformation. Empowerment.

How has the pandemic accelerated digital transformation? What does this mean for your organization? Answers to these questions & more will be provided by digital thought leader Christoph Keese, CEO at Axel Springer hy, and industry expert Lotta Pöyhtäri, Head of External Reporting at Swiss Re, during the CCH Tagetik – Finance.Transformation.Empowerment online event. This unique event for finance leaders is supported by Satriun, as Platinum partner.

Use this opportunity to get inspired by leaders of change invited to the Satriun and CCH Tagetik TOP Event 2021 Finance. Transformation. Empowerment. Speakers will share best practices, expectations and experiences on how to manage disruption and get into lead. On June 10th, find out how Axel Springer adopted digital transformation and learn you can identify growth opportunities regardless of the industry you are in – Lotta Pöyhtäri will go through all the reasons behind Swiss Re’s transformation project and the impact on its finance department empowerment.

 

Agenda

10:00 - 10:10 : Welcome Session

SPEAKERS


Jérôme Vial
Country Manager
Switzerland
CCH Tagetik

 

 


Michael Krause
Executive Partner
Satriun DACH

10:10 - 11:00 : Digital Transformation Journey

Christoph Keese is one of Germany’s best-known thought leaders on digital transformation. As editor-in-chief and manager, he drove digital transformation at leading German newspapers as well as at Axel Springer SE and is today CEO of Axel Springer hy, a digital consultancy. His keynote provides insights into how new technologies and business models change every market today. Therefore, learn more about Axel Springer’s transformation journey from a print publisher to a digital mediahouse, how the media industry disrupted itself and needs to keep re-inventing in order to survive nowadays. This Axel Springer’s “success formula” does not only apply to the media industry but can be taken into account for general learnings in other organizations. Furthermore, Christoph Keese will demonstrate during his engaging presentation, how to identify digital disruption as well as growth opportunities and exploit them to one’s own advantage in order to stay relevant not only today but also in the future. And don’t forget: Take the opportunity to ask Christoph Keese your own questions in the Q&A session following this lecture.

SPEAKERS


Axel Springer hy, a digital consultancy
CEO

11:00 - 11:30 : Swiss Re’s Transformation to Financial Empowerment

The Swiss Re Group is one of the world’s leading providers of reinsurance, insurance and other forms of insurance-based risk transfer. The organization decided to undertake a transformation journey to change to the proven CCH Tagetik solution. In this presentation Lotta Pöyhtäri, Head of External Reporting at Swiss Re, will provide you with an exclusive insight into Swiss Re’s implementation of the unified CCH Tagetik platform and how CCH Tagetik better fits into the bigger IT and reporting picture of the organization. Furthermore, she will share insights into the reasons for the change and why Swiss Re selected CCH Tagetik to empower the finance department. Lotta will also portray expectations and experiences that went with the transformation.

SPEAKERS


Head of External Reporting
Swiss Re

11:30 - 11:50 : Q&A Session with speakers Christoph Keese & Lotta Pöyhtäri

SPEAKERS


Jérôme Vial
Country Manager
Switzerland
CCH Tagetik

 

 


Michael Krause
Executive Partner
Satriun DACH

Don't miss this event!

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10.06.2021 10:00

Finance. Transformation. Empowerment.

Register Now!

Tagetik inTouch Online 2021

Tagetik inTouch Online 2021

Events

Tagetik inTouch Online 2021

Satriun is a proud sponsor of CCH Tagetik’s inTouch Online 2021 global conference. Achievements of both CCH Tagetik and Platinum partner Satriun were exceptional in the past year and the partnership has never thrived more. Come and learn from our experts and common customers about finance transformation and digitalisation of the Office of the CFO.

Attending this online event will provide you with the following insights:

  • Listed to the predictions of Dr. Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at New York University’s Stern School of Business and CEO of a global macroeconomic consultancy firm based in New York and London about the COVID-economy. What does he believe a post-COVID economy will look like?
  • Discover what’s AI’s potential, what are its downfalls and most importantly, how can it help us from Inma Martinez, recognized worldwide as a leading pioneer of digital technologies and transforming industries via machine intelligence.
  • How Satriun helped Solevo Group, a leading distributor of chemicals and inputs for specific industrial and agricultural segments in Africa, to successfully complete its finance transformation while increasing efficiency in group consolidation and reporting by implementing CCH Tagetik
  • Take a virtual tour of Tokyo, exploring Japanese cuisine, cultural traditions, and must-see destinations to balm your wanderlust and be equipped for your next visit to Japan
  • Explore the latest Corporate Performance Management market trends and opportunities
  • Learn about new CCH Tagetik innovations, connect with peers, connect with Satriun Corporate Performance Management experts
  • Benefit from a 30% discount on the June CCH Tagetik Academy trainings
  • Get one-on-one meetings with Tagetik product experts
  • Attend a special concert that goes beyond traditional musical formats
  • CCH Tagetik Customer Awards Ceremony

Browse the event agenda here!

 

Don't miss this event!

Click the button

19.05.2021 10:30

Tagetik inTouch Online 2021

Register Now!