Justice Department appeals approval of AT&T / Time Warner merger

Justice Department appeals approval of AT&T-Time Warner deal

The US Justice Department is set to appeal the $85 billion merger between AT&T and Time Warner, Bloomberg says, citing a court filing. Rest assured, this battle is far from over.

AT&T closed the Time Warner transaction on June 14, two days after U.S. District Judge Richard Leon's ruling.

"While the losing party in litigation always has the right to appeal if it wishes, we are surprised that the DOJ has chosen to do so under these circumstances", said AT&T general counsel David McAtee.

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The case will be eyed by many as this will be the first time in a long time that courts have let a merger happen where the two companies are in two entirely different markets. The Justice Department had argued the deal would harm consumers.

However, a court document filed today indicates that the Justice Department will appeal the decision.

Speaking to reporters at the Sun Valley conference in Idaho, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said his company was expecting the Justice Department to appeal, but are prepared and "not worried" about it.

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Leon had sharply urged the Justice Department not to seek a stay of his ruling, saying it would be "manifestly unjust" to do so and not likely to succeed. AT&T's expert witnesses claimed during the trial that merging with Time Warner would create efficiencies and allow the company to lower the prices charged to consumers.

AT&T is a phone, cable and satellite company, and the biggest pay TV provider in the U.S. - claiming about 25 million of the approximately 90 million USA households that are pay TV customers. It has been renamed WarnerMedia, and AT&T has rolled out a $15-a-month streaming service that heavily uses some of the content owned by WarnerMedia.

Among networks under Time Warner's umbrella are HBO, CNN, TNT and TBS. This decision to appeal could have been made at the highest levels of the Trump administration. The day after Leon delivered his ruling, Comcast made a $65 billion offer for 21st Century Fox, in an attempt to outbid Disney for Fox's entertainment assets.

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