Justice Department appeals approval of AT&T-Time Warner merger

Justice Department Appeals AT&T-Time Warner Merger Decision

Justice Department appeals AT&T-Time Warner merger | TheHill

AT&T announced an $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner back in 2016, which the Justice Department rebutted with an antitrust lawsuit last November. The potential ramifications here are huge and involve several entities, not to mention the precedent it could set.

AT&T chief executive Randall Stephenson told reporters on Thursday (local time) that the company was not surprised about the DoJ's decision to appeal.

But in June Leon ruled that the government's objections "rested on improper notions" and warned against an appeal. It's possible the court could place the case on a fast track because the longer an appeals process takes, the more integrated the two companies will become.

Among 19 analysts covering AT&T Inc (NYSE:T), 6 have Buy rating, 2 Sell and 11 Hold. Trump has publicly feuded with Time Warner's CNN, calling it "failing" and a purveyor of "fake news".

Leon advised the Justice Department not to seek an appeal, when he approved the merger - which AT&T said was necessary to survive in an industry with competition from Netflix and Facebook - in June.

The Department of Justice on Thursday is appealing (via Bloomberg) the case on the grounds of antitrust.

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As a candidate for president, Donald Trump said he opposed the tie-up, saying it would lead to "too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".

Leon also wrote that if the DOJ appealed and won, the Circuit Court would have no qualms about unwinding the merger.

AT&T is a phone, cable and satellite behemoth that became the biggest pay-TV provider in the US with its acquisition of DirecTV in 2014. The resulting AT&T-Time Warner megacompany retained ownership of Warner Bros., HBO and Turner.

The DOJ's move could increase that risk as its arguments against the AT&T-Time Warner included concerns that AT&T would be the sole distributor of highly sought-after content such as HBO.

Already the ruling has started opening the floodgates to deal making in the fast-changing worlds of entertainment production and distribution. The merger preceded Comcast's $65 billion bid for 21st Century Fox's assets.

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