AT&T, Time Warner Again Extend Merger Date

AT&T and Time Warner have extended their merger closure deadline to June 21, 2018. The previous extension for the $84.5 billion transaction pushed the close-by date back to April 22, 2018, from Oct. 22, 2017.

The extension represents a fiscal relief of sorts for AT&T, which is on the hook to Time Warner for $500 million if the merger collapses.

The deal — struck in October 2016 and including Warner Bros., Turner and HBO — was considered a formality following global regulatory approval. Then the Department of Justice in November sued AT&T, claiming the deal was bad for consumers and innovation.

Critics contend the DOJ sued under pressure from President Trump, who is openly critical of Turner subsidiary CNN. Trump contends the merger is not good for the country — a claim he made during the most-recent presidential campaign.

AT&T publicly lauded Trump’s signature on Congress’ tax overhaul, promising to pay $1,000 bonus to 200,000 employees. The workers’ union said the telecom giant had promised the bonuses months before the legislative action.

Regardless, the contentious situation has been felt on both companies’ bottom line: AT&T and Time Warner shares have fallen 8.6% and 3.7% year-to-date, respectively.