Shares of AT&T sank about 2% in after-hours trading Tuesday immediately following a judge’s ruling that the telecom giant could proceed with its $84.5 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable.
The deal is widely widely considered to be a harbinger of future media mergers that could radically shift how Americans consume television and movies going forward. Most notably, Disney’s ongoing offer to buy 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, which Comcast is expected to compete against.
The Department of Justice as well as President Donald Trump had originally opposed the merger. The deal could “greatly harm American consumers” through “higher monthly bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy,” Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division, said when announcing the suit last year.
AT&T rebuffed those claims made by the Justice Department and Trump, saying similar mergers are “routinely approved because the benefit consumers without removing any competitor from the market.”
The merger is considered “vertical” because it would combine Time Warner, which makes programming, with AT&T, a distributor of that content, which would then have access to more Time Warner brands like HBO, TNT, TBS, and CNN.