The European Commission has granted approval to an AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) bid to acquire Time Warner Inc (NYSE:TWX) for $85.4 billion. This now brings AT&T closer to an acquisition that would transform the second-placed wireless carrier in the United States into a major player in regard to content. In a statement posted online, AT&T thanked the team at the European Commission for doing their job in a timely manner.
“This is an important approval from a highly respected authority. The global clearance process is on track, and we look forward to creating a company that will lead the next wave of innovation in the media and telecommunications industries,” Bob Quinn, a senior AT&T vice president said in the statement.
Department of Justice
After approval from the European Union, the next major hurdle for AT&T to clear is getting a nod from the U.S. Justice Department. The deal will not, however, be required to seek the approval of the Federal Communications Commission since there will be no transfer of licenses for airwaves.
Last year while on the campaign trail, President Donald Trump had voiced his objection to the deal. Since then, optimism has been growing that the pro-business approach of the Trump administration will give the deal the go-ahead. This has led to speculation that Sprint Corp (NYSE:S) and T-Mobile US Inc (NASDAQ:TMUS), the fourth- and third-largest wireless carriers in the United States respectively, could finally merge.
The difference, though, between AT&T’s bid to acquire Time Warner and the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint is that the former involves players from sectors that are entirely distinct. This could have far-reaching consequences for both industries. For instance, there is fear that with AT&T acquiring Time Warner it would block its competitors in the telecommunications sector from getting their hands on content or content platforms that Time Warner owns.
Time Warner’s stable includes HBO which produces television shows that are both popular and critically acclaimed such as Game of Thrones, Veep and West World. The studio unit of Time Warner also owns popular movie franchises such as Harry Potter.
On Wednesday shares of AT&T Inc rose by 1.19% to close the day at $42.59 a share.