Friday, 20 July, 2018

AT&T closes $85 billion deal for Time Warner

Brian Roberts CREDIT Mark Lennihan AP REX Shutterstock
Kenneth Drake | 15 June, 2018, 10:18

AT&T announced Thursday evening that it has completed its acquisition of Time Warner, two days after a federal judge gave the telecommunication and entertainment giants the green light to go ahead with their $85 billion merger.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon announced the decision on Tuesday, delivering a blow to the Trump administration's Department of Justice (DOJ). "Combine all that with AT&T's strengths in direct-to-consumer distribution, and we offer customers a differentiated, high-quality, mobile-first entertainment experience", AT&T's chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said in a statement.

Leon said the case fell short on all counts and warned the government against seeking to hold up the deal with an appeal, saying that would cause "irreparable" harm to the two companies whose tie-up had been delayed for a year and a half.

The government could still appeal the decision.

He rejected the government's argument that the phone and pay-TV giant's takeover of the entertainment conglomerate would hurt competition, limit choices and jack up prices for consumers to stream TV and movies. The Trump administration had opposed the merger, which promises to join one of the country's biggest telecom providers with a media powerhouse that owns the Warner Bros. movie studio and DC Comics as well as the cable-TV networks CNN, HBO, TBS and TNT.

Leon had urged the government not to seek a judicial postponement of the merger for a possible appeal.


Smartphone with AT&T logo is seen in front of displayed Time Warner logo in this picture illustration taken June 13, 2018.

Leon also told Justice Department lawyers in court that he did not believe the government was likely to win an appeal on the merits.

The memo was tweeted out by Brian Stelter, CNN's senior media correspondent and host of its Reliable sources, who has a new top boss today.

In addition, AT&T Communications will have no say in setting Turner's prices or other terms in contracts with companies that distribute its content.

AT&T cast it as a necessary step to compete against the likes of Amazon, Google and Netflix.

The first to come was Comcast Corp's (CMCSA.O) $65 billion bid on Wednesday for the entertainment assets of Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O).

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