U.S. News

Appeals court upholds AT&T-Time Warner merger

By Sommer Brokaw   |   Feb. 26, 2019 at 1:09 PM
A three-judge panel on the U.S. Appeals court for the D.C. Circuit upheld a lower court's ruling that the Justice Department failed to prove that AT&T's planned acquisition of Time Warner would harm consumers. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 26 (UPI) -- A U.S. appeals court upheld a district court's ruling that AT&T's acquisition of Time Warner is legal.

On Tuesday, the three-judge panel from the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court's decision that the government's antitrust objections were unpersuasive.

The ruling brings the merger closer to completion despite AT&T's dispute with antitrust regulators since the deal was announced in October 2016. The Justice Department could still ask for a full appeals court to hear the case or appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court.

The U.S. Department of Justice brought the suit challenging telecom giant AT&T's $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner in November 2017, arguing that it would restrict pay-TV competition.

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled in June 2018 that the merger was legal, rejecting the U.S. government's argument that it would lead to fewer choices for consumers and higher prices.

AT&T shares rose to trade roughly half of 1 percent higher following the appeals court decision Tuesday.

The company's consolidated revenues were already up 15.2 percent for the fourth quarter, totaling $48 billion compared to $41.7 billion a year ago. It ascribed that growth to its Time Warner acquisition. Since the acquisition, Time Warner has been renamed WarnerMedia.

"The merger of these innovative companies has already yielded significant consumer benefits, and it will continue to do so for years to come," " AT&T General Counsel David McAtee said in a statement. "While we respect the important role that the U.S. Department of Justice plays in the merger review process, we trust that today's unanimous decision from the D.C. Circuit will end this litigation."

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