Judge clears AT&T-Time Warner deal, rebuking Trump administration

phys.org | 6/13/2018 | Staff
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A US federal judge approved Tuesday the $85 billion merger of wireless and broadband giant AT&T with media-entertainment conglomerate Time Warner, delivering a stinging rebuke to Donald Trump's administration in its first major antitrust court case.

US District Judge Richard Leon said the government had failed to meet its burden of proof that the tie-up between the largest US pay-TV operator and the media entertainment giant would harm competition.

Case - Benchmark - Mergers - Media - Communications

The case had been closely watched as setting a benchmark for other big corporate mergers, especially in the media and communications sector.

Leon said the case fell short on all counts and warned the government against seeking to hold up the deal with an appeal, saying that would cause "irreparable" harm to the two companies whose tie-up has been delayed for a year and a half.

Harm - Government - Delay - Companies - Leon

"There would be no irreparable harm to the government (with a delay), only to the companies," Leon told the packed courtroom in an unusual session to announce his opinion.

"The government has taken its best shot and lost."

Leon - Ruling - Victory - Companies - Government

Leon's 172-page ruling was a total victory for the companies. It said the government failed to back up its three theories of harm to consumers from the mega-merger.

He maintained that the government's claim that pay TV costs would rise from the tie-up was based on "speculative" logic and that its study from an expert witness was contradicted by other evidence from the government.

Daniel - Petrocelli - Team - Companies - Reporters

Daniel Petrocelli, who led the legal team for the two companies, told reporters outside the courthouse that the decision marked a "sound and proper" repudiation of the government's case.

"We're disappointed that it has taken 18 months to get here but we're relieved that it's finally behind us," he said.

Ruling - Testament - Wisdom - Combination - Companies

He said the ruling "stands as a testament to the wisdom of the combination of these two great companies and how it will...
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