Trump administration fails to block AT&T/Time Warner merger

Trump administration fails to block AT&T/Time Warner merger

Makan Delrahim, the Justice Department's antitrust chief, said prosecutors were "disappointed" with the decision but did not reveal whether they would seek a stay or appeal the ruling. That would set up a showdown with Disney, which has already put in a bid for those assets. It could also threaten to withhold content from Time Warner channels, such as CNN, HBO or TNT, from rival services in order to gain a competitive advantage for AT&T's TV services.

The trial is also a landmark for the entire industry, as companies like Disney, Fox and Comcast wait to see how the judge rules before moving ahead with their own mega deals. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson also said past year, "You shouldn't expect that we would sell something larger [than CNN] to get the deal done".

It's been years in the making, but the mammoth merger of AT&T and Time Warner officially going to happen.

"Brian Roberts and Team Comcast are cleared to bid", BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield told CNNMoney after the ruling.

Prior to the news on the decision in the case, AT&T stock closed up 0.5% (to $34.50 per share) and Time Warner closed up 0.05% in regular trading (to $96.22 per share) which concluded at 4 p.m. ET. "The case stands as a testament to the wisdom of this combination of these two great companies and how it will benefit consumers for generations to come". Seats for the ruling at the E Barrett Prettyman courthouse in downtown Washington were in such demand that lines began forming outside the courthouse a full day before the scheduled 4pm announcement.

AT&T General Counsel David McAtee now expects its purchase of Time Warner to close by June 20.

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The Time Warner deal is a crucial achievement for Stephenson, who views AT&T as competing with Google, Facebook, Netflix and other Silicon Valley giants.

In a recent court filing, Redstone said her long-term plan was to create a combined company, which would unite media assets including CBS' broadcast networks, Showtime, MTV, Comedy Central and Nickelodeon, and then sell it.

The opinion comes 20 months after AT&T announced its plans to buy Time Warner in a transaction then worth nearly $85bn. The decision now rests with Judge Leon because the Justice Department sued AT&T to block the merger. He rejected the government's argument that it would hurt competition in pay TV and cost consumers hundreds of millions of dollars more to stream TV and movies. In fact, sometimes a merger can help competition and consumer choice, as is more often the case with vertical mergers.

During the trial, the judge heard from dozens of witnesses, including AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Time Warner CEO Jeffrey Bewkes.

A federal judge on Tuesday gave a ringing endorsement to AT&T Inc's planned acquisition of Time Warner Inc without any conditions, opening the door for companies such as Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc to pursue deals to buy creators of media content.

Initially AT&T and Time Warner planned to use a "selective enforcement" defense, alleging that the administration was blocking the deal because of Trump's dislike of CNN. At the time, AT&T called the move a "radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent".

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