US Court Gives AT&T Approval to Buy Time Warner for $85 Billion
13 June, 2018, 03:29 | Author: Lora Ball
He issued his decision in a closed-door room with reporters, and reportedly urged the government not to seek a stay.
The Justice Department argued that the merger between AT&T and Time Warner would introduce unfair advantages in the marketplace. The theory seems to be that the merged company would simply forgo this revenue in a speculative hope that withholding Time Warner content from distributors would induce masses of viewers to switch to AT&T-and maybe, one day, put competitors out of business. Remember, Time Warner owns CNN, which is the object of some of Trump's most focused hatred. We thank the Court for its thorough and timely examination of the evidence, and we compliment our colleagues at the Department of Justice on their dedicated representation of the government.
The company plans to close the deal by June 20, according to a statement from AT&T's general counsel David McAtee.
Other major industry players could take Tuesday's ruling as a green light to pursue their own deals.
Comcast is trying to outbid Disney for assets including cable networks FX, FXX and National Geographic, 21 regional sports networks, Fox's 30% stake in Hulu and movie and TV production studios. 21st Century Fox already agreed in December to sell those assets to Disney, which include all of the movie studio 20th Century Fox, a stake in Hulu, their stake in worldwide broadcaster Sky and many regional sports channels, among other assets.
"Brian Roberts and Team Comcast are cleared to bid", BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield told CNNMoney after the ruling.
Disney now has a $52.4 billion all-stock offer in for Fox's film andtelevision studios, as well as ancillary networks like FX, NatGeo, Europe's Sky and India's Star.
Time Warner (TWX) shares were up almost 5 percent in after-hours trading that followed news of the decision.
AT&T claims that with a purchase of Time Warner, they'll be able to compete in the grand scheme of internet and TV into the future.
A decision about a proposed merger between two telecommunications companies could be good news for a series of healthcare mergers.
AT&T and Time Warner Inc. announced their proposed merger in October 2016. President Donald Trump, while still a candidate, said he would block the deal "because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few". Federal judge Richard Leon appoved the $85 billion merger in court Wednesday, almost two years after the planned deal was announced. The government failed to prove that the merger would dampen competition and innovation and raise prices for pay TV, said Daniel Petrocelli, the companies' lead attorney in defending the merger. And Leon's decision is likely to trigger a wave of new mergers, as many executives were waiting to for the outcome of AT&T's bid before pushing forward with their desired deals. In aftermarket trading late Tuesday, AT&T's stock was down 1.7%, while Time Warner's was up 4.5%.
Outside of court, however, critics of the lawsuit pointed to Trump's frequent criticism of CNN, which is owned by Time Warner.
Leon said the government's objections "rested on improper notions" and warned against an appeal.
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