US lawmakers and both presidential candidates have voiced concerns over the merger, which was announced on Saturday. However AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson believes the deal will be approved, saying in an interview with CNBC:
“While regulators will often times have concerns with vertical integrations, those are always remedied by conditions imposed on the merger, so that’s how we envision this one to play out.”
If the deal goes ahead, it will be the biggest merger announced so far this year. AT&T have agreed to pay $85.4 billion for the company, which owns CNN and HBO. It will combine AT&T’s 130 million strong customer base with content from Warner Brothers and three major US cable TV channels; HBO, Cartoon Network and CNN.
A Senate sub-committee responsible for competition will hold a hearing in November and are set to examine any anti-trust issues arising from the merger.
AT&T shares fell nearly 2 percent on Monday, currently trading down 1.63 percent at 36.88 (1753GMT). Several credit ratings companies have lowered their assessment of the companies in the wake of the announcement. MoffettNathanson downgraded Time Warner to “neutral”, saying in a report today:
“We are unprepared at this point to assign anything higher than a 50/50 probability of deal approval.”