Monday, 18 February, 2019

Trump administration appeals $US85 billion merger of Time Warner and AT&T

Justice Department appeals approval of AT&T-Time Warner deal Justice Department Appeals AT&T-Time Warner Merger Decision
Ginger Lawrence | 14 July, 2018, 11:16

Rough waters ahead: Imagine the logistical nightmare that would ensue if AT&T's mega merger with Time Warner were to be undone.

The government's notice of appeal, filed in US District Court in Washington, did not disclose on what grounds it intends to challenge the approval given by US District Judge Richard Leon.

A court could theoretically force AT&T and Time Warner to reverse the merger.

"The Court's decision could hardly have been more thorough, fact-based, and well-reasoned,"AT&T General Counsel David McAtee said".

"Notice is hereby given that the United States of America, plaintiff in the above named case, hereby appeals to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit from the final judgment entered in this action on June 12, 2018", the DOJ said in its filing. When the deal was first made public in October 2016, it drew fire from then-candidate Donald Trump, who promised to kill it "because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".

No matter how the Justice Department's appeal unfolds, AT&T's completed acquisition of Time Warner could prove hard to untangle. For its part, AT&T said Thursday it's ready to defend Leon's ruling against the government's appeal.

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Leon rejected all of the government's arguments against the deal, one of the largest media mergers ever. The Justice Department had 60 days to appeal the merger after it was approved.

Leon had sharply urged the Justice Department not to seek a stay of his ruling, saying it would be "manifestly unjust" to do so and not likely to succeed. AT&T asserted during the trial that it needed to grow to survive in the era of Google, Amazon and Netflix.

Soon after the deal closed, AT&T announced a price increase for DirecTV Now, the company's online streaming video service.

The Trump administration has opposed the deal from the start.

The Justice Department had pressured Time Warner to sell Turner Broadcasting, which includes the cable news operation CNN, or other segments of the business, which both companies resisted.