AT&T’s Time Warner Takeover Wins Judge’s Approval in Defeat for Justice Dept

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A federal judge approved the blockbuster merger between AT&T and Time Warner, rebuffing the government’s effort to block the $85.4 billion deal, in a decision that is expected to unleash a wave of takeovers in corporate America. Judge Richard J. Leon of the United States District Court in Washington said the Justice Department had not proved that the telecommunication company’s acquisition of Time Warner would lead to fewer choices for consumers and higher prices for television and internet services. 

Judge Leon took the unusual step of warning the government not to try to seek a stay, saying it would hurt the defendants, which had already gone through an 18-month regulatory and legal battle for their review. The companies face a June 21 deadline to close their deal.

The ruling is a major setback for the Justice Department and its antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, whose decision to sue to block the deal broke with convention. Deals such as this one, in which the two companies are in related industries but do not produce competing products, are usually approved by federal regulators. Delrahim had insisted that the two companies sell some major parts before getting government approval, a demand that the executives rejected. That led to the Justice Department’s lawsuit, filed in November. Judge Leon’s opinion may also increase the chances that other deals already reached, like CVS’s bid for Aetna and T-Mobile’s proposed merger with Sprint, will survive regulatory scrutiny.

AT&T’s Time Warner Takeover Wins Judge’s Approval in Defeat for Justice Dept Judge clears AT&T to purchase Time Warner, creating entertainment colossus (LA Times) U.S. Judge Approves AT&T's $85 Billion Merger With Time Warner (NPR) AT&T-Time Warner merger approved, setting the stage for more consolidation across corporate America (Washington Post) AT&T, Time Warner Cleared to Merge (B&C) Trump administration fails to block AT&T/Time Warner merger (ars technica)