A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that AT&T can proceed with their $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner; that ruling came after the Department of Justice tried to block the merger.
After a six-week trial, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon decided to not impose any conditions on the merger which allows AT&T to take control of HBO, CNN, and Warner Bros. CNBC reports:
The outcome of the trial could spur a wave of deals in the telecom and media industries, as well as clear the way for future vertical mergers, where a company buys its supplier. Comcast has been eyeing a similar merger to combine production and distribution in a competing bid for Fox and was preparing to announce an offer as soon as Wednesday if Leon ruled in favor of AT&T in the trial, people familiar with the matter told CNBC.
DOJ Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim indicated that the department was not pleased by the decision and is now considering its next steps.
"We continue to believe that the pay-TV market will be less competitive and less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner," Delrahim said. "We will closely review the Court's opinion and consider next steps in light of our commitment to preserving competition for the benefit of American consumers."
Predictably, AT&T General Counsel David McAtee had the opposite reaction to the decision.
"We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the Court has categorically rejected the government's lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner," McAtee said. "We look forward to closing the merger on or before June 20 so we can begin to give consumers video entertainment that is more affordable, mobile, and innovative."
The New York Times notes that AT&T announced the sale in October 2016 and that what made the case noteworthy was the fact that it was "challenged even though it doesn’t share all the characteristics of horizontal integration."