Judge approves AT&T merger with Time Warner

Cornelia Mascio
Giugno 13, 2018

Had Leon ruled in favor of the government, the consequences would have reached far beyond media, to tech, health care, finance and other major fields. "We're obviously disappointed with the judge's decision".

"The case stands as a testament to the wisdom of the combination of these two great companies", Daniel Petrocelli, the lead trial attorney for AT&T, said after the judge's ruling. The "drop dead" deadline for the merger to be completed is June 21.

The judge made his remarks to a packed courtroom in an unusual session weeks after the trial ended. With no phones or computers allowed into the courtroom, and attendees required to stay until after the judge had left the courtroom, the public was left in the dark for almost 40 minutes Tuesday afternoon as they awaited the decision. Most immediately, Disney's bid to buy a chunk of 21st Century Fox may be impacted as the ruling could encourage Comcast to put forward a competing bid, as it has already announced it might do.

"The deal floodgates will now open", one investment banker told Breitbart News.

Asked about the decision, he said, "Obviously we don't agree". First floated in October 2016, the deal also brought fire from then-candidate Donald Trump, who promised to kill it "because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".

The Justice Department, which had sued to block the purchase, has the option of appealing the decision.

In the last seven antitrust appeals in merger cases (mostly Federal Trade Commission suits), the government has won significant-enough stays to delay the underlying merger three times, according to a recent Bank of America analysis.

The deal is set to unite AT&T's significant wireless, satellite television and internet business with Time Warner's media properties, which include HBO and CNN. The average cable bundle, by comparison, costs $104 per month. Or it could hurt Netflix and other content producers by locking them out of AT&T's multi-channel distribution network.

Leon, in his remarks during the ruling, strongly urged the government not seek a stay that would hold up the close of the deal. That is, deals where a company was buying its competitor, known in the legal jargon as a "horizontal merger".

"We continue to believe that the pay-TV market will be less competitive and less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner", Delrahim said in a statement. The deal is valued at $108.7 billion, including debt.

"It would mean more digital companies would attempt vertical mergers and that the industry would become more siloed". The companies then entered into discussions with the DOJ past year and rumors surfaced that the agency had suggested some divestitures in order for AT&T to avoid an antitrust lawsuit.

But Delrahim swore to the court that he was not influenced by the White House, and Leon stopped most of the arguments about political interference from entering the trial.

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