AT&T closes Time Warner deal, but DoJ could still appeal

  • A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that AT&T's $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner was legal, imposing no conditions on the merger.
  • The deal officially closed on Thursday.
  • The Justice Department can still appeal the decision, even after the completion of a merger.

AT&T completed its purchase of Time Warner on Thursday, shortly after the U.S. Department of Justice said it would not apply for a stay of a judge's ruling letting the deal go forward.

A federal judge ruled on Tuesday that AT&T's $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner was legal, imposing no conditions on the merger. The government had the option to seek a stay, delaying the merger for a designated waiting period, but has forgone that option.

The Justice Department can still appeal the decision, even after the completion of a merger.

"We understand that, based on these representations, the Department of Justice has no objection to closing this merger as soon as possible, including later this week, and will [forgo] a request for a stay pending appeal," Daniel M. Petrocelli, counsel for AT&T and Time Warner, said in a letter to the DOJ.

The DOJ sued last year to block the merger, citing concerns that AT&T, owner of satellite television provider DirecTV, could charge rival distributors more for Time Warner content, resulting in higher prices for consumers.

AT&T said in a letter to the DOJ Thursday it will take action to run Time Warner-owned Turner Broadcasting, which owns CNN, as a separate business unit from AT&T-owned DirecTV.

The company said its wireless division, the nation's second-largest, will have "no role in setting Turner's prices or other terms to unaffiliated distributors" and that it will implement a "firewall between Turner and AT&T Communications" to prevent improper sharing of information or pricing.

Correction: This story has been amended to clarify that the Justice Department has forgone its option to seek a stay to delay the AT&T-Time Warner merger, allowing the deal to close. The Department can still appeal the decision.