Regulators May Force AT&T To Sell Assets for Time Warner Approval

The Department of Justice is looking over the proposed acquisition of Time Warner by AT&T, and there appears to be a number of antitrust issues in the deal. Not that surprising, given that AT&T is basically acquiring a competitor, that would make it the largest cable company in the country. Now the DOJ is looking to force AT&T to sell some of its assets to satisfy regulators into approving the deal. This deal was expected to close by the end of this year, but given these latest developments, that may not be the case. AT&T initially announced its acquisition of Time Warner over a year ago, in October of 2016.

According to AT&T's CFO, John Stephens, all other regulators have approved of the merger, the only hold out right now is the Department of Justice. It's worth noting that last year, when the deal was initially announced, presidential candidate, Donald Trump, vowed that his Justice Department would block the deal, if he wont the election. And it appears that may actually happen. The deal is already opposed by a number of AT&T's competitors, many of which feel that if AT&T does buy Time Warner, who owns HBO, Warner Bros and CNN to name a few, that it could keep other channels and networks out. Since AT&T is a wireless company and also has DIRECTV NOW, that could be a big issue for other services like Sling TV, or channels like C-SPAN, and SHOWTIME.

At this point, it's unclear what assets the DOJ may want AT&T and/or Time Warner to sell, to satisfy them enough to approve of the deal. This could be spectrum or something else, perhaps selling off CNN or HBO to another company. But at this point, it's looking likely that it won't be closing anytime soon. AT&T may be taking the Justice Department to court over these actions, as some of the actions are pointing towards blocking AT&T from various things for up to 10 years, which is a big deal for AT&T. Although these things have not been spelled out completely, in the public, so it's hard to judge how big of a deal that could be.

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