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AT&T wins: Judge approves $85.4 billion Time Warner acquisition

Image: Randall Stephenson
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson leaves the federal courthouse in Washington on March 22, 2018. Copyright Jose Luis Magana AP file
Copyright Jose Luis Magana AP file
By Claire Atkinson with NBC News Tech and Science News
Published on
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The acquisition will create one of the most powerful companies in global media.

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WASHINGTON — AT&T's $85.4 billion acquisition of media giant Time Warner can proceed, a federal judge said Tuesday.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled that the combined companies do not pose a danger to consumers, a decision that amounts to a resounding win for the two companies.

Leon ruled that AT&T can buy all of Time Warner without any conditions, such as selling certain assets or agreeing to refrain from raising prices. Industry analysts had expected AT&T to win, but many speculated that the judge would force the company to agree to certain measures.

The judge, based in Washington, has spent the last few months listening to arguments for and against the deal. AT&T and Time Warner claimed the deal will be good for consumers and help them compete against tech companies such as Google and Facebook. The Department of Justice, with the support of President Donald Trump, opposed the merger, arguing that the combined companies would be too powerful and reduce competition.

The acquisition will create one of the most powerful companies in global media, marrying AT&T's widespread consumer distribution capabilities with the crown jewels of Time Warner, including HBO, Warner Bros. film and TV studios, and TV channels including CNN, TNT and TBS.

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