NACD - National Association of Corporate Directors

Justice Department Says Not So Fast to AT&T's Time Warner Bid

The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and AT&T Inc. publicly sparred yesterday over whether the wireless carrier would be required to sell Time Warner Inc.'s CNN cable network as a condition of approval of its deal to purchase the media company, reports the New York Times (Nov. 9, de la Merced, Steel, Sorkin). Until this past week, AT&T's pending $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner appeared on track to close by year's end. Now it seems entirely possible that the two sides will end up battling each other in court. "The ongoing negotiations have also demonstrated how the Trump administration may regulate big-ticket mergers and acquisitions, representing the first major test for the government's antitrust strategy," notes the Times. At stake is a mega-deal that, when completed, would join one of the country's largest wireless Internet providers to CNN, HBO, Warner Bros., and DirecTV. Because the proposed transaction involves a couple of companies that do not compete directly with each other, executives at both believe there is little legal basis for the federal government to block it.

CNNMoney (Nov. 8, Stelter) notes that "the DOJ's hardline approach to AT&T -- belying the business-friendly image of the Trump administration -- has spurred questions about Trump's personal interest in the deal, given his feelings about CNN's coverage of his presidency." AT&T may opt to force the government's hand by moving to close the deal, which would very likely trigger a court battle. CNN sources, though, say talks between the DOJ and AT&T are ongoing in the hopes that an accord can be reached. AT&T announced its Time Warner acquisition more than a year ago.

According to Reute