Why President-elect Trump might not block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, after all

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Despite his campaign vows to block the deal, President-elect Donald Trump could be forced to take a friendlier stance on AT&T's $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner than he initially laid out, analysts say — potentially disappointing supporters who were hoping for a big showdown with the company. Regulators at the Justice Department are likely to examine the proposed deal closely no matter what happens.

But a constellation of factors, from the makeup of President-elect Trump's transition team to the mundane details of antitrust law, may make it difficult for President-elect Trump to oppose the tie-up once he is in office. As a result, one of the earliest decisions to occur on President-elect Trump's watch may be the regulators' approval of the massive acquisition. “Either there's going to be mass tension within his team, or he's going to sit back and let the [establishment conservatives] have their way — in which case, all of his campaign rhetoric on blowing up Comcast and AT&T was just cheap talk,” said Hal Singer, an economist and senior fellow at the George Washington Institute for Public Policy. Analysts say AT&T was likely caught off-guard by President-elect Trump's victory. “They made a calculated bet with the Hillary administration — this is not what they expected,” said Frank Louthan, an industry analyst at Raymond James. “They may still prevail, but that was a shock.”


Why President-elect Trump might not block the AT&T-Time Warner merger, after all