AT&T chief: DOJ appeal 'changes nothing' for Time Warner merger

AT&T chief: DOJ appeal 'changes nothing' for Time Warner merger
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AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said on Friday that he’s not concerned about the government's new challenge to his company’s $85 billion merger with Time Warner.

In an interview with CNBC Friday morning, Stephenson said that AT&T was not surprised that the Justice Department appealed a federal judge’s decision last month to let the merger move forward.

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“This changes nothing I’m doing today, except talking about this issue on camera,” Stephenson said. “This changes nothing we’ll be doing over the next 30 days or 12 months. We think the likelihood of this thing being overturned or reversed is remote.”

The government filed its appeal on Thursday, a month after U.S. District Judge Richard Leon said that prosecutors had failed to prove the merger would hurt competition and consumers.

The Justice Department has not yet revealed the basis for its appeal, but it argued in court that the merger is anticompetitive because it would allow AT&T to use its control over Time Warner’s entertainment offerings to raise prices and put the squeeze on competitors.

Meanwhile, AT&T argued that it wanted to make Time Warner content like CNN and HBO as widely available as possible in order to compete for online targeted advertising revenue.

Stephenson said Thursday that this process is already underway since the deal closed last month. He also said that the Justice Department’s move could affect other deals, like the bidding war between Walt Disney and Comcast over Twenty-First Century Fox’s entertainment assets.

“It does affect that process,” Stephenson said. “You’re in a situation where two entities are bidding for an asset and this kind of action can obviously influence that outcome.”