AT&T ready to fight U.S. on Time Warner deal: CEO

12 November, 2017, 02:38 | Author: Sheri Evans
  • AT&T ready to fight U.S. on Time Warner deal: CEO

"I'm not sure how selling CNN addresses any antitrust concerns so I would expect AT&T to challenge that requirement", Allyn Arden, an analyst at S&P Global Ratings told Wired.

AT&T executives have consistently expressed optimism about the deal being approved.

Some US commentators claim president Donald Trump - a severe critic of CNN - is behind the DoJ's alleged demands. "It's hard to imagine an antitrust argument that will be compelling" from the government, he said. The White House has also said that Trump has not spoken to Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the matter, nor were any White House officials authorized to speak to DOJ on it.

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Speculation among Wall Street insiders and people within the companies has risen over whether the administration's feeling about CNN could be influencing the decision, the Journal reported. Transactions like Comcast's acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011 are routinely approved with conditions attached.

Rather than attempting to weaken CNN as a condition of the merger, the DOJ should move against it for the reasons cited by Trump himself while campaigning in Gettysburg in 2016.

But on Wednesday morning, AT&T said the timing of the deal's closing is now "uncertain". "We are prepared to litigate now", Stephenson told CNBC on the sidelines of the New York Times Dealbook conference. The government has the burden to show that the deal would reduce competition.

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The president has frequently referred to CNN as "fake news". As a candidate, Trump vowed to block the deal because it concentrated too much "power in the hands of too few".

So some observers have been concerned about possible interference all year long.

Stephenson said several times on Thursday that a combined AT&T and Time Warner will create a data and advertising company whose competitors will be the newest and most disruptive entrants into the media sector, Amazon.com Inc, Facebook Inc, Netflix Inc and Alphabet Inc's Google, not other wireless phone companies.

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On last Sunday's "Reliable Sources" on CNN, when asked whether Trump has had any involvement, counselor to the president Kellyanne Conway said "we're not going to interfere with that here". He said he wants the department to investigate his political rivals, including Hillary Clinton.

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