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Judge says AT&T can move forward with its $85B merger with Time Warner

A federal juge ruled on Tuesday that AT&T can proceed with its $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner. Judge Richard Leon ruled the deal is legal and he did not impose any conditions on the merger.

Today’s ruling comes as part of the antitrust lawsuit levied by the Justice Department last year.

Now that the merger has been given the go ahead, AT&T will add Time Warner’s content to its existing paid TV subscription. But looking beyond today, the merger could have a strong effect on future deals.

Comcast reportedly is looking to make an offer to purchase 21st Century Fox the day after AT&T’s merger comes into play. The Walt Disney Company is also looking to make an offer on the company.

The Justice Department argued that the merger between AT&T and Time Warner would introduce unfair advantages in the marketplace. However, AT&T has argued that making such a deal would be necessary to compete against other tech companies.

As reported by CNBC, AT&T general counsel David McAtee hopes to close the deal on or before June 20th:

“We are pleased that, after conducting a full and fair trial on the merits, the Court has categorically rejected the government’s lawsuit to block our merger with Time Warner,” McAtee said in a statement. “We look forward to closing the merger on or before June 20 so we can begin to give consumers video entertainment that is more affordable, mobile, and innovative.”

As for a potential appeal from the Justice Department, Judge Leon is discouraging such a move and says the agency should “think” first.

A spokesperson for the Justice Department responded in a statement:

“We are disappointed with the Court’s decision today,” a spokesperson for the agency said in a statement. “We continue to believe that the pay-TV market will be less competitive and less innovative as a result of the proposed merger between AT&T and Time Warner. We will closely review the Court’s opinion and consider next steps in light of our commitment to preserving competition for the benefit of American consumers.”

Talks about the merger first began in October 2016 but ran into a heap of issues as time went on. AT&T officially announced its plan a few days later. After roughly a year of silence, AT&T was hit with an antitrust lawsuit with the Justice Department.

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