In a much anticipated decision, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia has effectively green-lighted AT&T, Inc’s multi-billion dollar deal to acquire Time Warner, Inc. The Court’s Opinion is 172 pages long and extensive in its discussion, with the Court concluding “that the Government has failed to meet its burden to establish that the proposed ‘transaction is likely to lessen competition substantially.'”
While it remains to be seen whether the Government will appeal, the Court in its conclusion went on to discuss why it would not issue a stay should a request for one be made and clearly attempted to dissuade any effort by the Government to push a closing of the deal beyond a June 21st break-up date through the seeking a stay, indicating: “The Government here has taken its best shot to block the merger based on the law and facts, and within the time allowed. The defendants did their best to oppose it. The Court has spoken. To use a stay to accomplish indirectly what could not be done directly – especially when it would cause irreparable harm to the defendants – simply would be unjust. I hope and trust the Government will have the good judgment, wisdom, and courage to avoid such a manifest injustice. To do otherwise, I fear, would undermine the faith in our system of justice of not only the defendants, but their millions of shareholders and the business community at large.”
CNBC was reporting that Comcast was preparing to compete with Disney in Disney’s bid to acquire Fox’s assets upon approval of the AT&T / Time Warner deal. It will certainly be interesting to watch how that unfolds, and to see the overall impact this decision will have on future M&A activity within the relevant industries.