AT&T CFO on Time Warner Deal Trial: "We Expect to Prevail"

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Time Warner

"We got to get that done. We're going to get that done." says John Stephens at the Deutsche Bank Media, Telecom & Business Services Conference in Florida.

Telecom giant AT&T remains confident about its legal position to get its planned Time Warner acquisition approved, CFO John Stephens said Tuesday ahead of the start on March 19 of a trial that will determine the fate of the proposed $85.4 billion takeover in litigation brought by the Department of Justice, which has argued it would harm competition.

Speaking at the Deutsche Bank Media, Telecom & Business Services Conference in Palm Beach, Fla., in an appearance that was webcast, Stephens didn't provide timing details of the case beyond the Monday, March 19 start date of the court date, following some recent reports that it may start a day later.

"We are certainly prepared," he said. "Our position is strong, and we expect to prevail. We will go through that process, and the judge will set the timing for his decision." Stephens added: "We are open to discussions as we always have been, but we continue to expect to prevail."

Asked at the start of the discussion about AT&T's priorities in 2018, he started off by mentioning the Time Warner acquisition. "Time Warner — we got to get that done," he said. "We're going to get that done."

A federal judge recently refused AT&T's bid to compel communications between Donald Trump's White House and the Department of Justice. In doing so, the judge perhaps suggests that a defense premised on White House interference may fall short. AT&T's attorneys had been probing Trump's influence on the Justice Department, given the president's distaste of Time Warner's CNN unit.

"It's a great opportunity for us," Stephens said about the Time Warner deal, highlighting that it would be financially accretive. He also reiterated that there are all sorts of data business opportunities for Time Warner once owned by AT&T, such as "a great data insights capabilities so that we improve their advertising revenues" and make the entertainment company "much more valuable."