The AT&T merger decision and the wages of Trump

14 June, 2018, 03:17 | Author: Rafael Roberts
  • Pawns on a chessboard

Disney has bid for 21st Century Fox's entertainment assets, a deal that appears to have been shaped to avoid a challenge by Delrahim's antitrust squad.

Today, Comcast submitted a competing bid for 21st Century Fox's key assets that surpasses the Walt Disney Company's offer.

"We're disappointed that it took 18 months to get here, but we are relieved that it's finally behind us", he told reporters after the decision.

The Justice Department can appeal and could ask an appellate court to stay the ruling, though Leon said he hoped the government would have the "good judgment" not to do so.

Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) offered $65 billion on Wednesday to lure Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O) away from a merger with Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), setting up a bidding war between two of the largest US media companies with its 20 percent higher offer. Post-merger, AT&T rivals like Charter Communications and Cox, which now pay Time Warner for its channels, would suddenly also become AT&T's customers.

The judge advised the USA regulators that their arguments were so weak that they should not even bother to appeal, although several legal experts believe the ruling is so significant it will not go unchallenged.

Leaving the courtroom, Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice department's antitrust division, said that he would read the judge's opinion before making a decision on an appeal.

Number three wireless carrier T-Mobile, meanwhile, is seeking a tie-up with number four Sprint.

AT&T and Time Warner together are some of the largest buyers of advertising around the globe, spending billions of dollars to market their products.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon on Tuesday rejected the Justice Department's request for an order blocking the Time Warner acquisition, saying the government failed to make its case that the combination would lead to higher prices for pay-TV subscribers. Fox stock jumped more than 6% in after-hours trading following the ruling.

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The AT&T court victory was widely taken as a green light for Comcast to submit its expected bid.

AT&T is known to most consumers as a telecom company, offering cable, internet and phone services, but this is just the latest in a line of mergers from such companies trying to break into the media landscape.

A federal judge ruled Tuesday afternoon that AT&T can proceed with its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

"AT&T is buying Time Warner, and thus CNN", Trump said at a campaign rally in 2016.

"The bulk of the third-party competitor testimony proffered by the government was speculative, based on unproven assumptions, or unsupported - or even contradicted - by the government's own evidence", Leon wrote.

"We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the Court has categorically rejected the government's lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner". 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".

"One can not ignore the fact that there's less independent content to go around", after the AT&T deal, said Henry Su, an antitrust expert with Constantine Cannon LLP. That was "a deal we will not approve in my administration".

The Justice Department sought AT&T to divest CNN parent company Turner Broadcasting or DirecTV, the big satellite-television operator, to gain Justice Department approvals for the deal.

AT&T argued that it was the very threats posed by the likes of Amazon, Netflix, and Facebook that demanded it expand into a media-tech titan.

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