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The Justice Department intends to sue AT&T to stop its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss the matter ahead of the suit’s official filing.
That sets the stage for an epic legal battle with AT&T. The telecom giant’s CEO Randall Stephenson said earlier this month that he would not sell “key franchises” of Time Warner to get the deal done. A person familiar with the matter, who could not go on record, had previously told the AP that the DOJ wanted the company to sell either Turner, the parent of CNN; TBS and other networks; or DirecTV.
The government’s objections to the deal have surprised many on Wall Street. AT&T and Time Warner are not direct competitors. Mergers between such companies have typically had an easier time winning government approval.
In an emailed statement Monday, AT&T general counsel David McAtee said the lawsuit is a “radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent” and that the company is confident that a court will reject the government’s claims.
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