AT&T is now "uncertain" about when its proposed acquisition of Time Warner might be completed in an official capacity, according to remarks provided by its Chief Financial Officer John Stephens during a press conference held in New York earlier today. Mr. Stephens confirmed that the second largest mobile service provider in the country is presently discussing its attempted takeover with the United States Department of Justice but said he isn't able to share any specifics on the matter, refusing to even provide an outline of when the company is expecting to close the deal that it previously pledged to complete by October 22nd before extending that deadline for an undefined period.
The $85.4 billion deal has previously been opposed by a range of consumer protection groups and some members of the TV industry, all of whom alleged that the transaction would lead to a vertical monopoly, providing AT&T with a number of high-profile and popular content creators whom it would be more inclined to promote among its nearly 140 million wireless subscribers at a direct expense of rivaling content. AT&T repeatedly dismissed such claims, suggesting that the merger will benefit consumers. The DOJ is now said to be considering a lawsuit to block the tie-up, with the agency having already started preparing the necessary paperwork for litigation, according to recent reports. Keeping all options open is standard practice for the federal regulator and cases of major consolidations, though people familiar with the matter were previously cited as saying that Washington isn't anywhere close to reaching a deal with AT&T.
Latest reports suggest that the two are presently debating the length of a concession period that would be imposed on AT&T should the merger receive approval, with the DOJ supposedly pushing for a decade of concessions and the telecom giant being adamant to negotiate a better deal for itself. Other contents of the discussions remain unclear, though AT&T is likely to be forced to agree to certain divestitures if it wants the tie-up to receive its final approval. The acquisition of Time Warner is understood to be of paramount importance to AT&T's long-term business strategy designed to diversify its operations and make its bottom line less reliant on the wireless sector whose stateside growth is now slowing to a crawl.