AT&T and Time Warner tucked an interesting news nugget into a more than 150-page SEC filing last night about the telco’s $85 billion acquisition deal: They now say they don’t believe that an FCC review will be necessary because “Time Warner will not need to transfer any of its FCC licenses to AT&T in order to continue to conduct its business operations after the closing of the transaction.”
The companies add that that’s “subject to change.”
The disclosure could be important: If the Trump administration wants to block the deal, it would have its best shot via the FCC, which determines whether transactions serve the public interest. That’s open to broad interpretation.
AT&T’s acquisition still has to pass muster with Justice Department antitrust officials. But if they oppose it, lawyers would have to demonstrate to a court how, specifically, the merger would reduce competition in ways that would hurt the public.
AT&T and Time Warner have said that their union would make the telco a more potent wireless competitor to cable’s broadband services.
Despite today’s disclosure, Time Warner shares still haven’t made up for the modest loss they saw yesterday following a Bloomberg report that said Donald Trump still opposes the deal. The company’s up 0.3% in early trading. AT&T — which appeared to be unaffected by yesterday’s report — is down 1.4%.