AT&T to close Time Warner purchase by June 20: attorney

Lloyd Doyle
June 13, 2018

A rejection might have chilled possible multibillion-dollar deals involving other media companies. Instead, a rush to consolidate is likely. 21st Century Fox owns 39% of Sky and has been in a long battle with United Kingdom regulators to buy the rest of the company.

Leon, in his remarks during the ruling, strongly urged the government not seek a stay that would hold up the close of the deal.

Shares of both T-Mobile and Sprint rose; their proposed combination is pending.

AT&T on Tuesday won the right to buy Time Warner and its deep reservoir of programming for $85 billion. But, he added, "the government's evidence is too thin a reed for this court to rely on".

Judge Leon delivered his opinion in a closed courtroom packed with reporters and telecom industry-watchers.

"We are disappointed with the Court's decision today", a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement. If not completed by then, either company could walk away, and AT&T would have to pay a $500 million breakup fee.

The decision by the Justice Department to sue to block the merger caught AT&T and many others in the media industry by surprise.

Tuesday's ruling signaled that federal regulators will have a hard time stopping companies from getting bigger by gobbling up rivals and the programming they own.

In seeking to unify, the two companies argued that a new crop of competitors cast an ominous shadow over their businesses: Netflix, Amazon and Apple in content and distribution; Google and Facebook in advertising.

For starters, expect Comcast to make a bid for Fox's entertainment business as early as Wednesday.

"Allowing this merger to proceed raises serious concerns for consumers and the future of American media, and also sends a troubling signal to others that it's open season for vertical mergers that could allow a company to raise the cost of essential products and services that its rivals need to compete, leading to higher costs for consumers and less innovation", Klobuchar said. But Comcast has said it's prepped to top Disney's bid for the 21CF assets - and it's widely expected that Comcast will pull the trigger now that the AT&T-Time Warner merger has the go-ahead.

"Judge OKs AT&T merger with Time Warner, rejecting government argument it would hurt pay-TV consumers, competition".

We're still waiting to get a copy of the full ruling, but Bloomberg TV reported that US District Judge Richard Leon ruled entirely in AT&T's favor.

The government argued in a six-week trial this spring that AT&T's ownership of DirecTV, which has 20 million subscribers, would become too powerful if combined with Time Warner, which owns Turner's sports and CNN news.

Leon said the government's case fell short on all counts and warned against seeking to delay the deal with an appeal saying that would cause irreparable harm to the companies. AT&T did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A loss for AT&T and Time Warner could have signaled a new era of government scrutiny over so-called "vertical mergers" and could have halted attempts by companies like Disney, Fox and Comcast to announce their own megadeals.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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