Monopoly season is open, and Net Neutrality just died. The Justice Department will not try to stop AT&T from purchasing Time Warner, and the companies are now free to close their deal. The government may yet appeal a ruling on its antitrust lawsuit against the ultra-giga-mega-merger.
Today's news means the AT&T and Time-Warner are free to close the $85.4 billion deal, about 20 months after first announcing the plan.
From the New York Times:
The department had six days to seek an injunction after a federal judge approved AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner on Tuesday. That decision is expected to prompt a series of other mergers, especially in the media industry.
However, the Justice Department still has 60 days from the date of the ruling to file an appeal, even if the companies close the merger, and such a filing remained a possibility.
“We are still considering whether or not to appeal,” a spokesman for the department said Thursday.
There was a time limit on when the government could seek an injunction, because the merger agreement between the companies expires on June 21. If an injunction had been granted, the companies would have had to extend the date or AT&T would have had to pay Time Warner $500 million in what is known as a reverse termination fee.
Related, in NYT Opinion: “The AT&T-Time Warner Merger Hurts Consumers.”
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