What happened to the AT&T/Time Warner deal yesterday, and what's next
What happened to the AT&T/Time Warner deal yesterday, and what's next
AT&T clashes with US on Time Warner merger
09 November, 2017, 18:18
Conflicting news reports about the role of CNN in the talks prompted AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson to release a statement Wednesday afternoon, saying company officials have "never offered to sell CNN and have no intention of doing so".
AT&T's tie-up with Time Warner would give the telecom giant large control over a massive media ecosystem.
AT&T chief financial officer John Stephens told a conference in NY "there are all kinds of benefits" to the combination and noted that the government has not blocked this kind of vertical tie-up in decades. "I am thinking that clip could be used by any attorney, AT&T, to say, 'Hey, look, you can see what was in his mind before he was president of the United States, even before he knew what the merger looked like".
Some sources say AT&T floated the possibility of selling CNN or other assets.
Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute, told The New York Times that the "DOJ would have to show that a combined entity has the incentive as a vertically integrated company to foreclose rival content producers and/or rival distributors from access to content".
A lot of different options are on the table for how to proceed, Justice Department officials said.
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Cramer said the Justice Department "thesis" about the deal is flawed.
AT&T had previously targeted the end of the year for closing the deal, and Wall Street analysts had widely expected the deal to go through. Shares of Time Warner closed down 6.5 percent at $88.50. Obama-era regulators in 2011 approved a similar media merger, cable company Comcast's purchase of NBCUniversal, after Comcast agreed to a slew of business requirements.
AT&T is prepared to fight any divestitures required to win regulatory approval of the deal, according to sources familiar with the matter.
AT&T extended to sell CNN. "Beyond that, the department does not comment on any pending investigation".
"For over 40 years, vertical mergers like this one have always been approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitors from the market", AT&T said last week. Over the summer The New York Times reported that Trump aides discussed using the pending deal as a powerful form of leverage over CNN's coverage.
The new concessions suggest the Justice Department's antitrust chief Delrahim has changed his view of AT&T's plan to buy Time Warner, since giving an interview in 2016 where he declared it not "a major antitrust problem".
The Justice Department has historically been insulated from political pressure.
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