AT&T-Time Warner Merger Gets The Green Light From Federal Court
14 June, 2018, 03:58
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon summarily declared that to be "fake news", ruling that the government failed to prove the merger would lead to higher prices. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minnesota) said the decision "raises serious concerns for consumers and the future of American media, and also sends a troubling signal to others that it's open season for vertical mergers".
The Justice Department, which had sued to block the purchase, has the option of appealing the decision.
Notably, the ruling does not require AT&T to divest any assets of Time Warner to complete the transaction.
Our new proposal offers 21CF shareholders $35.00 per share in cash and 100% of the shares of New Fox after giving effect to its proposed spinoff, providing superior and more certain value as compared to Disney's all-stock offer.
A US court ruled that AT&T's deal for media giant Time Warner could go ahead over the objections of the US Department of Justice, which anxious that the combination would raise prices for consumers.
David McAtee, AT&T's general counsel, said AT&T expected to close the deal by June 20.
The judge in a scathing opinion 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. 21st Century Fox already agreed in December to sell those assets to Disney, which include all of the movie studio 20th Century Fox, a stake in Hulu, their stake in worldwide broadcaster Sky and many regional sports channels, among other assets.
"Brian Roberts and Team Comcast are cleared to bid", BTIG Research analyst Rich Greenfield told CNNMoney after the ruling.
Comcast owns NBC Universal and rivals Disney as a media behemoth.
A Comcast spokesperson declined to comment.
"We're excited about this extraordinary opportunity to significantly increase our portfolio of well-loved franchises and branded content to greatly enhance our growing direct-to-consumer offerings", Disney chief Robert Iger said at the time of the Disney-Fox announcement.
Some of AT&T's top executives traveled to Washington for the announcement. Specifically, he said the government did not show how Turner would have any more leverage with carriers as part of AT&T, nor did they show that AT&T would get an unfair advantage over other carriers.
AT&T announced plans to acquire Time Warner on October 22, 2016. The Justice Department contended that the deal - which brings cable companies including CNN and HBO into AT&T's fold - would enable the telecom to harm competitors - including online distributors - by withholding (or demanding excessive fees) for popular channels. The Department of Justice, with the support of President Donald Trump, opposed the merger, arguing that the combined companies would be too powerful and reduce competition.
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