Randall Stephenson, the CEO of one of the best internet service providers in the country, AT&T® recently released an official statement, in which he confirmed that the telecom company would sell neither CNN nor its key assets to satisfy the demand of the Justice Department to close $85 billion their merger with Time Warner®.
AT&T® and the Justice Department are currently engaged in a war of words on whether the Trump Administration would approve the merger or not. The Trump Administration has been reviewing merger between both the parties for about a year now.
As a result, Stephenson recently stated that if there is zero progress on the ongoing negations, then the telecom giant would most likely seek the help of the court to protect their planned merger and to prevent the chances of any divestiture. In addition to that, Stephenson also expressed his frustrations over false reports that the telecom giant might be selling CNN.
He said, “I have never been told that the price of getting the deal done was selling CNN, period. And likewise, I have never offered to sell CNN.” A Justice Department source had insisted that AT&T® promised to trade CNN as part of the negations over the Time Warner® merger.
The sources also claimed that the Justice Department had informed AT&T® that they need to sell one of their important assets such as DirecTV® or Turner Broadcasting that includes CNN in order to get approved for the acquisition of Time Warner®.
Stephenson responded to these reports and he said that the telecom company should not be expected “to sell something larger.” He added, “It’s why you did the deal, it’s where the synergies come from. Selling the key franchises makes no sense, and those are the kind of things we’d move to litigation.”
The managing director of telecommunications policy at Cowen & Co, Paul Gallant said, “I expect the DOJ is concerned that AT&T® would abuse its new power with Time Warner® content and unfairly leverage Time Warner® content against its distributor rivals.”
However, a senior litigation analyst for Bloomberg Intelligence, Jennifer Rie commented that the Justice Department blocking the deal seems surprising. “From what we’re hearing, they’re at a stalemate,” she said. “The DOJ is staunchly sticking to structural remedies, and AT&T is staunchly against selling assets.”