Judge rules AT&T can purchase Time Warner

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A United States judge has approved AT&T's $85.4 billion acquisition (paywall) of Time Warner, dismissing antitrust fears and clearing the way for further industry consolidation.

The government can appeal the ruling, but Leon reportedly said that he would reject any government motion for a stay that would further delay the deal. In fact, CNNMoney reported that AT&T-Time Warner's counsel Daniel Petrocelli made the argument that traditional media orgs have already been left behind in the digital revolution.

Leon slammed any potential attempt by the government to keep the merger on hold pending appeal, saying the Justice Department had had its chance.

The judge's ruling is being seen by tech and telecom giants as a green light to pursue a slew of major media acquisitions.

AT&T and Time Warner said they need to combine in order to better compete with Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix and Google, companies that are already powerhouses in the content game. The Justice Department "did a good job just focusing on this merger. and how it would be abusive, not just how bad". Comcast is also expected to make a bid for 21 Century Fox's television division.

Originally it was said that AT&T had planned to launch AT&T Watch no matter what happens with the current Time Warner DOJ court case.

Wall Street analysts are expecting the bidding war for 21st Century Fox to heat up following today's regulatory approval of AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner.

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President Donald Trump speaks during a press conference in Singapore on June 12, 2018, in this photo released by the AFP. Mr Trump said he had formed a "special bond" with Mr Kim, and would "absolutely" invite him to Washington .

The theory seems to be that the merged company would simply forgo this revenue in a speculative hope that withholding Time Warner content from distributors would induce masses of viewers to switch to AT&T-and maybe, one day, put competitors out of business.

Unfortunately for the MCU fandom, the $52.4 billion deal offered by the Mouse House to purchase a majority of assets owned by Fox - including Deadpool, the Fantastic Four and the X-Men - "is in more jeopardy than some may believe".

Beyond the impact on the companies, the merger is expected to spur frantic dealmaking in the rapidly consolidating media sector. "We look forward to closing the merger on or before June 20 so we can begin to give consumers video entertainment that is more affordable, mobile, and innovative".

Assistant Attorney General for Antitrust Makan Delrahim had previously expressed an openness to the deal. But looking beyond today, the merger could have a strong effect on future deals.

"AT&T/DirecTV would hinder its rivals by forcing them to pay hundreds of millions of dollars more per year for Time Warner's networks, and it would use its increased power to slow the industry's transition to new and exciting video distribution models that provide greater choice for consumers", the DOJ said in its complaint.

AT&T had initially sought to argue that the government's opposition was fuelled by political objections from US President Donald Trump, who criticised the takeover during the 2016 election campaign. Investors have become more confident AT&T will win, based on the difference between the offer price of $102.87 and Time Warner's share price.

Shares of AT&T spiked immediately after the announcement and are now down about 2% in after-hours trading.

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