AT&T Wins Approval for $85.4 Billion Time Warner Deal in Defeat for Justice Dept.

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“We always believed that the motivations for bringing this case were questionable at best,” Gary Ginsberg, an executive vice president for Time Warner, said on Tuesday. “The court’s verdict resoundingly supported that view.”

Mr. Delrahim had argued that the only way antitrust concerns could be resolved was through the sale of major businesses. Last fall, he presented AT&T and Time Warner with two options: Sell the majority stake in either DirecTV, which is AT&T’s satellite television company, or Turner Broadcasting. The companies rejected both options.

Mr. Delrahim’s position, which the White House said it supported, also had the backing of some left-leaning politicians and antitrust experts. They have been increasingly calling for the government to break up Silicon Valley giants like Google, Facebook and Amazon and to prevent greater consolidation in health care, media, transportation and agriculture.

Judge Leon, who was appointed by President George W. Bush, tried to limit the reach of his opinion, writing that “the temptation by some to view this decision as being something more than a resolution of this specific case should be resisted by one and all!”

But many antitrust experts and analysts believe the decision will embolden companies to pursue deals.

The decision “will give AT&T market power to raise the price of Time Warner content, and, secondly, it will lead to further vertical mergers in this industry that will harm consumers,” said Steven Salop, an economics and law professor at Georgetown University who has pushed for stronger government regulation.

The trial drew large crowds that included executives, hedge fund managers and financial analysts. Mr. Delrahim attended occasionally, and so did Mr. Stephenson and Mr. Bewkes. The two executives each took the witness stand to defend the merger.

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