Time Warner and AT&T stock prices fell in midday trading today after Bloomberg reported that President-elect Donald Trump still opposes the merger of the media conglomerates — an opinion he held during the campaign. The report cites sources close to Trump, while another source says the president-elect’s chief strategist Steve Bannon also is against the deal.
Trump had been silent on the matter since winning the election — despite weighing in on almost everything else via Twitter. TW shares, which had been up about 10% since the November 8 election, fell more than 3% this morning on the news and closed down 1.7% at $95.07. AT&T shares ended the trading day unchanged at 43.58.
The companies originally expected the merger, for a proposed $85.4 billion in cash and stock, would close by the end of 2017. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson and Time Warner’s Jeff Bewkes went before a mostly skeptical Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Antitrust, Competition Policy & Consumer Rights in December to defend the deal. The execs also tum-thumped for the deal at Warner Bros studios in October.
The Justice Department will determine whether the combination would violate antitrust laws. If AT&T wants to keep a handful of broadcast licenses Time Warner controls then the deal might also need approval from the FCC, which would have to decide whether it would serve the public interest.
During the campaign, Trump claimed that “deals like this destroy democracy” and that he also opposed the Comcast-NBCUniversal merger, which was completed in 2011.