AT&T postpones target for $85bn Time Warner deal to April

AT&T postpones target for $85bn Time Warner deal to April

AT&T has admitted that – even if it wins the right to buy Time Warner for $85 billion – no deal can be completed until next April.

The company’s general counsel, David McAtee, filed a statement with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that AT&T and Time Warner are now working towards a termination date of 22 April 2018.

But first the companies face a court battle with the US Department of Justice (DoJ), which is challenging the merger. Proceedings are due to start on 20 February and are expected to last 10 days.

The DoJ said last week that the merger would reduce competition and potentially lead to higher consumer prices by concentrating too much control of media properties under one company.

It said AT&T would have the “incentive and ability” to charge rivals “hundreds of millions of dollars more” for the right to distribute content from major Time Warner properties including HBO and CNN.

McAtee said in AT&T’s filing yesterday: “AT&T intends to vigorously contest the DoJ’s allegations and is confident that the court will reject the DoJ’s challenge to the merger.”

When the merger plan was announced on 22 October 2016 the companies said they were aiming for a completion date of 22 October 2017. Now the companies are saying they will be at least six months behind that schedule – and that’s if they win their case against the DoJ.