AT&T given green light for Time Warner takeover by US courts
A US federal judge cleared AT&T's planned acquisition of Time Warner overnight, drawing to a close the six-week antitrust trial which saw regulators and the White House argue that the $85bn deal would give AT&T undue leverage.
Judge Richard Leon of the US District Court for the District of Columbia ruled the government, which claimed AT&T's acquisition would hurt competition in the pay-TV market, had "failed to meet its burden to establish that the proposed transaction is likely to lessen competition substantially".
Assistant US attorney general Makan Delrahim said he was "disappointed" by the ruling.
"We will closely review the court's opinion and consider next steps in light of our commitment to preserving competition for the benefit of American consumers," added Delrahim.
With the Justice Department having the power to appeal Judge Leon said he hoped the government would have the "good judgment" not to do so.
AT&T argued that Time Warner, which owns the likes of HBO, Turner and Warner Bros, would need to be able to compete with Amazon, Netflix and Google in order to improve technology and offer customers better options.
David McAtee, AT&T's general counsel, said, "We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the court has categorically rejected the government's lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner."
As of 0900 BST, Time Warner shares had gained 4.75% in pre-market to $100.79, while AT&T had slipped 2.15% to $33.61 each.