5:14pm PT by Ashley Cullins
AT&T Taps Hollywood Lawyer Daniel Petrocelli to Defend Time Warner Deal
AT&T has hired Hollywood heavy-hitter Daniel Petrocelli to defend its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner in case the government sues to block it.
The deal has been met with antitrust concerns, as critics worry the acquisition could cause AT&T to give Time Warner content special treatment or slow streaming speeds to competitors. The company has lawyered up amid reports that the Justice Department was attempting to rally support of state attorneys general to block the merger. AT&T confirmed Petrocelli's hiring to The Hollywood Reporter on Thursday.
Petrocelli, who leads the trial practice committee for O'Melveny & Myers, is a mainstay on The Hollywood Reporter's annual Power Lawyers list. On Thursday, he scored a big appellate win for client Fox Television in a dispute over the hit drama Empire.
Petrocelli recently defended President Donald Trump in the Trump University fraud case and satellite music giant SiriusXM in a series of suits arising from the broadcast of pre-1972 sound recordings — both matters settled. He also is representing Fox in its employee poaching battle with Netflix, and repping Kesha in her legal war with producer Dr. Luke.
AT&T CFO John Stephens also addressed the matter during a Morgan Stanley investor conference in Barcelona. The exec told the audience the company is in discussions with the DOJ and he remains optimistic. "We continue to believe that the transaction will close," Stephens said. "If you look at the antitrust history, the facts, law, the economics, [that leads to] the conclusion that we will be able to close."