Judge Clears AT&T, Time Warner to Close Deal -- Update

Date : 06/14/2018 @ 6:39PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : Time Warner Inc. New (TWX)
Quote : 98.91  0.0 (0.00%) @ 2:05AM

Judge Clears AT&T, Time Warner to Close Deal -- Update

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By Drew FitzGerald and Brent Kendall 

WASHINGTON -- U.S. District Judge Richard Leon on Thursday authorized AT&T Inc. to complete its purchase of Time Warner Inc., after the Justice Department decided not to request a delay that would have held up the combination.

On Tuesday, Judge Leon denied the Justice Department's attempt to block the deal and said the companies should be allowed to close their transaction before a June 20 deadline, which entitled Time Warner to a $500 million payment if missed.

A Justice Department official said Thursday the government still hasn't decided whether it will appeal the decision, but the agency won't seek a stay, which would have held up the transaction while both sides continued to litigate the issue.

Judge Leon issued a strongly worded opinion Tuesday that took the unusual step of urging the government to let the companies close their deal without further legal interference. Judge Leon said he hoped the Justice Department would have the "wisdom" not to seek an emergency stay of his ruling in light of the considerable time and expense devoted to the merger review.

In a letter to the Justice Department on Thursday, AT&T lead attorney Daniel Petrocelli told the agency that AT&T would keep Time Warner's cable networks, such as CNN and TNT, in a business unit separate from AT&T's communications assets, which include DirecTV.

The lawyer said AT&T would have no role in setting Turner prices and would build a "firewall" between Turner and AT&T to prevent the transfer of any competitive or sensitive information about contract terms or pricing.

Such conditions would make it easier to unwind the combination were the government to win on appeal. Mr. Petrocelli said AT&T would keep the conditions in place until the conclusion of the legal proceedings or Feb. 28, 2019.

The companies had been waiting to see if the Justice Department would seek a stay of the decision before closing their deal, which would unite one of the biggest providers of cellphone and television services with the Warner Bros. studio, CNN and HBO. An AT&T spokesman declined to comment.

Write to Drew FitzGerald at andrew.fitzgerald@wsj.com and Brent Kendall at brent.kendall@wsj.com


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

June 14, 2018 18:24 ET (22:24 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2018 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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