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AT&T Clashes With US Over Time Warner Asset Sales

09 November 2017

U.S. regulators have reportedly told AT&T it must sell the CNN news channel for its $84.5bn (£65bn) acquisition of Time Warner to go ahead. Waldron LP grew its stake in shares of Time Warner by 137.7% during the first quarter.

AT&T had maintained that the deal would be done by the end of the year.

The New York Times and the Financial Times also reported Wednesday afternoon that the DOJ was demanding the sale of CNN or Turner as a condition of approving the deal.

While the Justice Department declined to comment, sources had told the Journal that the department will sue if it can't reach an agreement on so-called "conditions" that are attached to the deal.

"It could be something as significant as all of Turner", said the source, adding that the Justice Department hadn't identified which unit must be sold.

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AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson wants to pair all the programming those divisions produce with advertising and other services to create new sources of revenue.

The Department of Justice wants AT&T to unload CNN before it can complete its $84.5 billion acquisition of Time Warner, according to a report Wednesday. Past year on the campaign trail, Trump, criticized the proposed AT&T-Time Warner deal and vowed that as president his Justice Department would block it.

"Citing 'three people with direct knowledge of the negotiations", the Financial Times reported on Wednesday that Time Warner must sell the cable news channel before the the USA antitrust authority signs off on the deal.

During the presidential campaign previous year, he vowed to block it, saying it would create too large an organisation. As president, he frequently criticizes CNN. Only place worse may be @NBCNews, @CBSNews, @ABC and @CNN. "This is political, this is unprecedented, and the only explanation is political pressure from the White House", a CNN employee told me. Shortly after the first one, Mr. Trump lashed out at CNN on Twitter, saying of the news network that "their credibility will soon be gone!"

But AT&T chief Stephenson said the combined company would "give customers unmatched choice, quality, value and experiences that will define the future of media and communications".

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In 2011, the Obama administration approved Comcast's acquisition of NBC Universal.

"For over 40 years, vertical mergers like this one have always been approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitors from the market", AT&T said last week. "With regards to the transaction, everything continues as we've expressed in the past".

"Because this is a vertical merger that combines distribution with content, the D.O.J. would have to show that a combined entity has the incentive as a vertically integrated company to foreclose rival content producers and/or rival distributors from access to content", Diana Moss, president of the American Antitrust Institute, said.

Separately, Mr. Trump has criticized the proposed merger from a populist perspective.

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AT&T Clashes With US Over Time Warner Asset Sales