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Decision Time For Mega-Merger

November 7, 2017

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AT&T is determined to purchase Time Warner. Whether the Justice Dept. will allow it is up to Makan Delrahim, an early Trump supporter who is now the administration’s top antitrust official. Analysts expect a decision soon. In a recent speech, Delrahim made a passionate argument for limited federal intervention in competitive marketplaces, but this deal involves a Time Warner entity in which the President has exhibited a keen interest, CNN. Trump has complained about CNN’s coverage of him, and during the campaign, he criticized the AT&T/Time Warner deal as an example of consolidation that put “too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.” Delrahim has a reputation as fair-minded and professional, but his preference for structural antitrust remedies (divesting parts of an entity to mitigate antitrust concerns) over behavioral ones could lead to AT&T buying Time Warner minus the thorn in the President’s side. Then the DOJ Justice Department will have stuck to its principles and Trump could brag that CNN didn’t end up with AT&T.

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