July 12, 2018
In a surprise, the Justice Department is set to appeal a recent federal judge’s decision greenlighting AT&T’s $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, including Warner Bros., Turner and HBO.
In a court document filed July 12, the DOJ appears to be acting on its initial disappointment last month after U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled the government had failed to meet its burden to establish that the merger was anti-competitive and would hurt consumers.
Some critics contend much of government’s resolve around thwarting the deal revolved around President Donald Trump’s public dislike of CNN, which is owned and operated by Turner. During the 2016 campaign, Trump argued the transaction would be bad for consumers.
While the DOJ had no objection to the closing of the merger following Leon’s decision, it still left open the possibility of a future appeal.
Regardless, repercussions to the DOJ decision could impact Comcast and Disney’s attempt to purchase 20thCentury Fox Film and other 21stCentury Fox assets, including U.K. satellite TV operator Sky.
Indeed, Comcast’s $65 billion offer for Fox assets and separate $34 billion bid for Sky hinged upon Leon’s decision and the DOJ’s subsequent response.
News of the appeal sent AT&T shares down 1% in after-market trading.