WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. Department of Justice and AT&T Inc will meet in court for the first time on Thursday as the antitrust regulator attempts to stop the U.S. No. 2 wireless company’s $85 billion purchase of media company Time Warner Inc .
The focus of the hearing is likely to be setting a court date for trial. AT&T has asked the court to hear the case beginning Feb. 20. The government is pressing for May 7.
AT - T - Time - Warner - Deal
AT&T and Time Warner announced their deal in October 2016, but it was not until last month that the Justice Department sued AT&T to block the deal, arguing it could raise prices for rivals and pay-TV subscribers and hamper the development of online video.
Under their agreement, AT&T will have to pay Time Warner $500 million if the deal does not close by April 22.
Companies - Government - Challenge - Trial - Government
Merging companies facing a government challenge often push for a faster trial than the government wants because of the cost of holding the deal together and the difficulty in operating businesses during a lengthy process, said Ethan Glass, a former Justice Department litigator now at the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, LLP.
“It’s pretty common that the merging parties want the trial to happen quickly,” said Glass. “Mergers create a lot of uncertainty at both companies.”
Fate - Deal - US - President - Donald
The fate of the deal has been widely followed since U.S. President Donald Trump criticized it on the campaign trail last year and his repeated attacks on the reporting of Time Warner’s CNN news network.
Trump renewed his opposition to the deal last month.
Pricing - Deal - Country
“I think your pricing’s going to go up, I don’t think it’s a good deal for the country,” he...
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