AT&T-Time Warner Merger Gets The Green Light From Federal Court

AT T Time Warner Antitrust

AT&T will acquire Time Warner after a legal ruling

That would set up a showdown with Disney, which has already put in a bid for those assets. As reported by CNBC, the global telecommunications conglomerate was willing to offer $60B in cash for the Rupert Murdoch-founded company.

The bid sets up a fight with Disney, which announced its own plan to acquire those businesses a year ago.

Comcast, the largest USA cable-TV provider, said its cash offer reflects a US$65 billion value for Fox's entertainment assets.

A US District Court judge has given the all-clear for AT&T's $85bn acquisition of broadcast giant Time Warner.

Variety is reporting that Comcast has offered $65 billion for 21st Century Fox's TV and studio assets, significantly topping Disney's bid by $12.6 billion - a substantial margin.

Comcast Corp (CMCSA.O) offered $65 billion on Wednesday to lure Twenty-First Century Fox Inc (FOXA.O) away from a merger with Walt Disney Co (DIS.N), setting up a bidding war between two of the largest US media companies with its 20 percent higher offer.

Fox shareholders will vote July 10 on the Disney transaction but the company could postpone the meeting, Fox said in a statement. Disney's Iger has also said Fox is key to its plans for Hulu, which it would gain control of if it acquired Fox. Comcast is willing to take a risk to make the deal happen.

In the lawsuit brought forward by the Department of Justice, Judge Richard Leon sided against the government's claims that the $85.4-billion deal between the two companies would violate antitrust laws and unfairly lead to higher prices for consumers. The $35 per share offer represents a 19% premium on Disney's $52.4 billion all-stock offer for the same assets.

The Fox stable includes The Simpsons and the X-Men movie franchise.

Judy, the decision comes nearly two years after AT&T first announced its plan to buy Time Warner, and just one week before the companies face a deadline to complete the merger.

Comcast said it meant to pursue its $30 billion acquisition of Sky Plc (SKYB.L) in parallel with its Fox bid. The company said the structure of its bid is "at least as favorable to [21st Century Fox] shareholders as the Disney offer".

Trump, a frequent detractor of Time Warner's CNN and its coverage, denounced the deal when it was announced in October 2016.

The government anxious that AT&T, as DirecTV's owner, could charge Comcast and other rival distributors higher prices for Time Warner channels like CNN or HBO. Fox has a 39 per cent stake in that company and has been trying to buy outright, with the intention of selling the full company to Disney as part of that deal. Comcast bid for Sky in April, after Fox's bid for the remainder of European pay-TV group it did not already own was delayed by regulators.

In the meantime, Moody's still have AT&T Baa1 rating under review as it waits to see how or if the government responds to the decision.

But a court ruling this week on a similar merger may have alleviated those worries.

United States government regulators tried to block the US$85 billion (NZ$120bn) deal, arguing the merger would reduce competition in pay TV and lead to higher prices for consumers. It also agreed to reimburse Fox for the $1.5 billion US-plus breakup fee it agreed to pay to Disney if their deal doesn't go through.

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