European Commission Approves AT&T Acquisition of Time Warner

Hollywood's make or break Moments: 4 - Time Warner - H 2015
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“This is an important approval," says an executive of the telecom giant, which has been working with the U.S. Department of Justice as it reviews the $85.4 billion deal.

The European Commission, the executive body of the European Union, has approved AT&T’s proposed $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner.

The telecom giant announced the approval, which analysts had expected soon, on Wednesday. 

“We appreciate the skilled work of the European Commission’s team for their timely effort to analyze and clear the AT&T-Time Warner merger,” said Bob Quinn, senior executive vp AT&T external and legislative affairs.

He added: “This is an important approval from a highly respected authority. The global clearance process is on track, and we look forward to creating a company that will lead the next wave of innovation in the media and telecommunications industries.”

Wall Street has focused its attention on the U.S. regulatory review as international approvals of the deal are widely expected.

AT&T CFO John Stephens told the Deutsche Bank Media & Telecom Conference in Palm Beach, Fla. earlier this month that deal-review processes were going on in Europe, Latin America and Asia. "Those are proceeding as you would expect," he said.

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai recently reiterated his expectation that the U.S. regulator would not review the planned transaction. That would mean the regulatory review in the U.S. would be limited to the Justice Department. Analysts have said that it could give the deal a green light with certain conditions.

U.S. President Donald Trump during his election campaign said his administration would not allow the deal, but Wall Street observers and AT&T executives have said that there was no precedent for blocking the transaction outright. 

Stephens said about the review process this month: "We continue to work with the DOJ in the normal course, and we continue to move that forward.”