Published: Sun, July 15, 2018
Money | By Arnold Ball

USA appeals against $80bn AT&T-Time Warner deal

USA appeals against $80bn AT&T-Time Warner deal

The US Department of Justice has moved to appeal the $85 billion AT&T-Time Warner merger.

The US Department of Justice has appealed against the federal court approval of AT&T's takeover of Time Warner.

"The Court's decision could hardly have been more thorough, fact-based, and well-reasoned". AT&T said it was surprised by the decision and would defend the merger in court again.

AT&T closed the acquisition a short time after Judge Leon's ruling, but agreed to keep Time Warner's cable networks in a business unit separate from AT&T's communication assets for now, in case the government chose to appeal.

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The merger was swiftly consummated, just two days after Leon's June 12 ruling and nearly as soon as the Justice Department signaled it wouldn't seek to temporarily block the merger while it pondered an appeal.

Last month, U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled in favor of AT&T-Time Warner, and while the Trump Administration didn't seem happy about it, there was no immediate indication that they would appeal.

The merger, first announced in October 2016, was opposed by President Donald Trump. The Justice Department had 60 days to appeal the merger after it was approved.

AT&T countered that a combined company would be better able to compete with a growing roster of online video competitors including Facebook, Google, Netflix and Apple. AT&T is one of the country's biggest telecommunications providers, and its purchase of Time Warner allowed it to pick up some of the biggest media brands in the United States, including HBO and CNN. Prosecutors argued that AT&T could inflate the price of HBO for other content distributors. It will also set a precedent for companies planning to make similar deals, such as Fox and Disney. Since taking office, Trump has not commented on the deal itself, but in an exclusive interview with Breitbart News previous year he showed amenability to a more aggressive stance on enforcing competition in the media world.

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