WASHINGTON (Fox News) – AT&T on Tuesday won a federal judge’s approval for its $85 billion deal to acquire Time Warner, prevailing over the federal government.
U.S. District Judge Richard Leon rejected the government’s argument that a combination of AT&T and Time Warner would give the telecom giant an unfair advantage over rival cable companies. The deal will proceed without forcing AT&T to sell any assets, according to initial reports from the courtroom.
While the U.S. Department of Justice could choose to appeal the decision, Leon warned that government officials “should have the good judgment and wisdom” not to seek a stay to temporarily prevent the deal from moving forward. The judge added that a stay would be a burden to AT&T, which has paid billions in its legal defense of the deal.
AT&T, the mobile carrier and broadband provider that also owns DirecTV, reached an agreement to take over Time Warner in October 2016. A year later, the Department of Justice filed a lawsuit to block the deal, arguing that AT&T’s ownership of Time Warner would limit competition and increase costs for consumers in the form of pricier cable bills. The deal includes Time Warner’s stable of media content, including the Warner Bros. film studio and cable television networks such as HBO and CNN.
Wall Street and industry analysts have closely followed the legal battle. Antitrust regulators have historically opposed so-called horizontal mergers between companies operating in the same business area.