~ Auto Buzz ~: US Antitrust Chief Is Unphased After Losing The AT&T/Time Warner Case

Friday, 15 June 2018

US Antitrust Chief Is Unphased After Losing The AT&T/Time Warner Case

This week, Judge Richard Leon made his decision in the AT&T/Time Warner merger, and sided with AT&T to allow the two companies to merge, and surprisingly, without any conditions attached. That was a big loss for the head of the antitrust division in the Justice Department, Makan Delrahim, and arguably Delrahim’s biggest loss of his career. Delrahim stated after the ruling came out that he has taken an oath to uphold competition, also mentioning that he and his team will be reviewing the judge’s opinion here and look towards the next steps.

Despite losing the case, Delrahim is actually being praised for taking such an aggressive stand on mergers. And even after losing this one, Delrahim isn’t backing down and will continue to protect competition in potential mergers. Which means that Delrahim is going to be a pretty busy person in the coming year. With companies like Comcast and Disney looking to purchase 21st Century Fox, and of course there is also the T-Mobile and Sprint deal that should be heading into an antitrust investigation soon (if it’s not already there). Delrahim is also one of very few that would challenge a vertical merger. As many would only challenge a horizontal merger, where two competitors are merging, instead of two companies that are offering different products – like AT&T and Time Warner. The Justice Department also tried to block Comcast from buying NBC Universal back in 2011, and ultimately lost. This case was very similar to Comcast’s about seven years ago.

As the antitrust chief in the US, it is definitely Delrahim’s job to protect competition – after all, competition is good for the consumer. And it’s going to be interesting to see how this all changes in the coming months with potentially Comcast buying Fox. It’ll be interesting to see what Delrahim does next to block the AT&T and Time Warner merger, while President Trump doesn’t like Time Warner – because of CNN – there may not be a whole lot left for the government to do to stop this merger, particularly since it is a vertical merger.

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