AT&T Exec Meets With Donald Trump, Talks Job Creation

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AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson

The president-elect during the campaign opposed the $85.4 billion mega-deal.

AT&T top executives met with President-elect Donald Trump on Thursday, although a rep for the company said that the proposed $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner "was not a topic of discussion." 

The "conversation focused on how AT&T can work with the Trump administration to increase investment in the U.S, stimulate job creation in America and make American companies more competitive globally," a rep for the company stated. 

A source confirmed a meeting to The Hollywood Reporter, but couldn't say who or how many people were attending the meeting.

Regulators must review the mega-deal, and Trump said during the election campaign that he opposed it. The Department of Justice will review the transaction. The companies have signaled that they may not transfer a license that would also lead to a review by the Federal Communications Commission.

The Bloomberg report said that Thursday's meeting was scheduled to be held at Trump Tower in New York. Bloomberg also reported that chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson was seen at Trump Tower in the morning. 

In October, Trump said about the proposed deal that he was against "too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” He argued the mega-deal as “an example of the power structure I’m fighting.”

Trump’s pick for the attorney general role, Jeff Sessions, said in recent days that he did not discuss the planned merger in his meetings with Trump. He would supervise the department’s antitrust division. Presidents typically don't weigh in directly on merger reviews.

AT&T and Time Warner declined to comment. Trump's press secretary Sean Spicer simply said that the president-elect is taking meetings with a lot of CEOs.

On Wednesday, Trump didn't call on CNN reporter Jim Acosta during his first press conference in months, calling the Time Warner news network "terrible" and saying it ran "fake news." 

Time Warner’s stock was virtually unchanged after the press conference. Asked about Trump’s comments and what effect it would have on CNN owner Time Warner and its stock, Wunderlich Securities analyst Matthew Harrigan told THR: “Zilch. CNN has its own viewership constituency and may actually benefit. Atmospherically, it and ABC have a more balanced tone than Fox [News] or MSNBC, even if some Trump supporters regard them as Machiavellian on fake news. CNN is also too small to affect Time Warner’s stock price that much, especially if the AT&T merger happens.”

Some investors have been wondering if Trump’s dislike of CNN could affect the AT&T deal review. If the deal was blocked, analysts have said the entertainment giant’s stock would be hurt. Industry watchers continue to predict though that the Justice Department will review the deal with a focus on antitrust and competition issues as it is tasked with instead of getting involved in political debates.

Several analysts have argued that since AT&T isn't buying a competitor, meaning the acquisition is a vertical deal, the Justice Department would have no reason to block the transaction, but could require certain conditions.

“I would not completely disregard the Department of Justice having issues on the deal even if it is vertical rather than horizontal,” Harrigan said.

Jan. 12, 11:40 am PST Updated with AT&T statement. 

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