DOJ considering lawsuit to block AT&T-Time Warner merger: report

DOJ considering lawsuit to block AT&T-Time Warner merger: report
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The Department of Justice (DOJ) is considering a lawsuit to try to block the AT&T-Time Warner merger even as it is in talks with the companies over a possible settlement to approve the deal, The Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.

The newspaper, citing anonymous sources, reported that regulators and the companies are not close to an agreement.

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The department could approve the $85 billion merger with certain conditions if it decides not to file a lawsuit, the newspaper noted, adding that its sources say that the agency could go either way at this point.

The report injects uncertainty into a deal that was widely expected to win easy approval from regulators.

"When the DOJ reviews any transaction, it is common and expected for both sides to prepare for all possible scenarios. For over 40 years, vertical mergers like this one have always been approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitors from the market," an AT&T spokesman told The Hill. "While we won't comment on our discussions with DOJ, we see no reason in the law or the facts why this transaction should be an exception."

AT&T has repeatedly expressed confidence that the deal would close by the end of the year.

If the Justice Department does decide to file a lawsuit, AT&T and Time Warner could still fight for the merger in court.