AT&T Wins in Court to Merge With Time Warner

AT&T Wins in Court to Merge With Time Warner

The deal cost AT&T's top lobbyist, Bob Quinn, his job in May after it became public that AT&T had paid Trump's personal lawyer Michael Cohen $600,000 for advice on winning approval.

"This deal will accelerate content and streaming initiatives between Time Warner properties and AT&T and be a major shot across the bow to other cable and wireless players with all these assets under one hood", he said.

The case - one of the most closely watched antitrust trials in decades - is viewed as a bellwether for other deals waiting in the wings.

In a complete rebuke of the Justice Department's arguments, Leon sided with AT&T and did not approve any conditions.

Leon also said it would be harmful for him to put a temporary stay on the merger while the government appeals his decision, if it does so.

Shares of AT&T were about flat in after-hours trade following the decision, while Time Warner rose more than 5 percent.

In a scathing opinion bit.ly/2Jxx6qE, he urged the US government not to seek a stay of his ruling, saying it would be "manifestly unjust" to do so and not likely to succeed.

The U.S. Department of Justice has lost its antitrust lawsuit to bar the planned AT&T and Time Warner merger, according to Business Insider. If AT&T and Time Warner win, it will likely be full steam ahead.


Analysts say the judge's go-ahead will likely rewrite the rules on how courts apply antitrust laws, paving the way for a number of other potential sales involving names like Comcast, Disney, 21st Century Fox and several other content creation and distribution companies. "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".

Still, at least one company, Comcast, the largest US cable provider, had been waiting for the court decision before making any large M&A moves in media, sources have said. The DOJ moved to block the merger in March, arguing that the merger would reduce competition and hurt consumer choice.

Rival cable company Comcast is now likely to go ahead with its planned attempt to woo Fox away from Walt Disney Co, which said it would acquire most assets of the media company for around $50 billion a year ago.

Leon rejected the notion of temporarily suspending the merger for a possible appeal by the government. Ultimately, the government argued this would harm competition and innovation as well as raise prices for consumers.

Time Warner controls assets such as HBO, CNN and, most importantly, Warner Bros.

Outside of court, however, critics of the lawsuit pointed to Trump's frequent criticism of CNN, which is owned by Time Warner.

AT&T has said it needs to buy Time Warner to compete with the likes of Amazon, Netflix and Google in the shape-shifting streaming-TV environment.

The mega-merger is a high-stakes bet by AT&T Inc. on the synergy between companies that produce news and entertainment and those that funnel it to consumers - who spend more time watching video on phones and tablets and less time on traditional live TV on a big screen. Trump weighed in again after the justice department filed its suit: "Personally, I've always felt that that was a deal that's not good for the country".

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