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AT&T wins court approval to buy Time Warner for $85 billion

14 June 2018
AT&T wins court approval to buy Time Warner for $85 billion

21st Century Fox already agreed in December to sell those assets to Disney, which include all of the movie studio 20th Century Fox, a stake in Hulu, their stake in worldwide broadcaster Sky and many regional sports channels, among other assets. As reported by CNBC, the global telecommunications conglomerate was willing to offer $60B in cash for the Rupert Murdoch-founded company.

Disney and Comcast had already been at battle in the United Kingdom over Sky TV.

The firm's promises include a $2.5bn fee for Fox if it decides against the takeover.

In addition to the $35 U.S. per share cash offer, Comcast agreed to pay a $2.5-billion USA termination fee if the deal doesn't pass regulatory muster. Now the judge overseeing the case has ruled that AT&T can merge with Time Warner.

Comcast reportedly is looking to make an offer to purchase 21st Century Fox the day after AT&T's merger comes into play. And Leon's decision is likely to trigger a wave of new mergers, as many executives were waiting to for the outcome of AT&T's bid before pushing forward with their desired deals. It's unclear at the present time if Fox will stick with the Disney deal or start a potential bidding war. It also said, "21st Century Fox has not yet made a determination, in light of Comcast's proposal, as to whether it will postpone or adjourn" its July 10 stockholder meeting to discuss the Disney acquisition. So when the proposed merger was announced in 2016, it was widely expected that it would not be challenged.

Those comments and his repeated criticism of CNN, which is owned by Time Warner's unit Turner Broadcasting, raised speculation that Trump had pushed Delrahim and the Justice Department to block the deal.

Comcast, the U.S. media conglomerate, has submitted another offer to buy parts of 21st Century Fox, after getting rebuffed a year ago in favour of Disney. Marvel would get back the characters previously licensed to Fox, reuniting X-Men with the Avengers.

"We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the Court has categorically rejected the government's lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner", the AT&T victory lap reads.

If the Comcast bid succeeds, a major cable distributor would control even more channels on its lineup and those of its rivals. It is also being reported by Variety that AT&T Watch will be offered to AT&T Wireless customers for free.

AT&T and Time Warner announced their deal on October 22, 2016, in the midst of the bitterly contested presidential campaign between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. That is, deals where a company was buying its competitor, known in the legal jargon as a "horizontal merger". Comcast bid for Sky in April, after Fox's bid for the remainder of European pay-TV group it did not already own was delayed by regulators. It also agreed to reimburse Fox for the $1.5 billion US-plus breakup fee it agreed to pay to Disney if their deal doesn't go through.

The merger was approved without any conditions, a stunning rebuke of the government's case.

The US Department of Justice-the nation's antitrust authority-sued to block the deal late past year, arguing that Time Warner's media brands like HBO, Warner Bros., and CNN would give AT&T outsized power, hurt competition, and lead to higher prices for consumers.