Time Warner Cable’s shares are down 5.4% and Comcast is off 2.7% after Bloomberg reported that Justice Department officials are “nearing a recommendation to block” the $45 billion combination of the two largest cable companies. What’s more, the officials are not negotiating with Comcast to come up with terms to ease the lawyers’ fears that the deal would hurt consumers, the news service says citing unnamed sources.
As soon as next week, antitrust lCawyers assessing the deal will provide their recommendation to Deputy Antitrust AG Renata Hesse. She and other Justice officials will decide whether to formally ask the courts to stop the merger. The head of Justice’s antitrust unit, Bill Baer, took himself off the case because he represented NBCUniversal in 2011 when Comcast bought the entertainment company.
The FCC also is examining the cable mega-merger, and could oppose if it concludes that it would hurt the public.
Comcast says that its deal “will result in significant consumer benefits: faster broadband speeds, access to a superior video experience and more competition in business services resulting in billions of dollars of cost savings. These benefits have been essentially unchallenged in the record — and all can be achieved without any reduction of competition. As a result, there is no basis for a lawsuit to block the transaction.”