With President Trump saying AT&T’s $85 billion dollar deal to buy Time Warner may end up in court, AT&T is reportedly making plans to fight back if it has to. According to Bloomberg, the company is ready to ask a court to open the record of communications about the deal between the White House and the Justice Department, if the Justice Department takes the proposed merger to court.
AT&T would presumably be looking for evidence that President Trump tried to influence the Justice Department’s decision, an assertion Attorney General Jeff Sessions has denied. Speculation that Trump wants to block the deal because he doesn’t like Time Warner’s CNN has never been confirmed, but AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson did get a question about selling CNN during a recent news conference. Stephenson said the Justice Department has not asked AT&T to sell CNN, and that his team has no interest in selling the cable news network.
AT&T shocked Wall Street earlier this month when its CFO said that the deal with Time Warner might not close by year-end, as originally planned. Since then, it has become clear the Justice Department scrutiny is the reason.
If the Justice Department blocks AT&T’s attempted takeoever of Time Warner, it won’t be the first time the agency has gotten in the way of the company’s plans to grow through acquisitions. During the Obama Administration, the Justice Department blocked AT&T’s attempted takeover of T-Mobile US. When AT&T announced the much larger Time Warner deal, conventional wisdom held that the deal would win approval from the Republican administration.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions was asked about the AT&T/Time Warner deal during a House hearing on Tuesday, according to Bloomberg. When asked whether anyone from the White House had contacted his agency about the deal, he reportedly said he could not comment on communications with “top people in the White House.”
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