AT&T cleared to buy Time Warner in big blow to Trump

Comcast readying new bid for 20th Century Fox film and TV assets

Comcast readying new bid for 20th Century Fox film and TV assets

Leaving the courtroom, Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice department's antitrust division, said that he would read the judge's opinion before making a decision on an appeal. He teaches constitutional law in the political science department at the University of California, San Diego, and practices at the firm Constantine Cannon.

According to Deadline, CEO Brian Roberts told investors during the company's annual shareholders meeting early Monday morning that Comcast is in the "advanced stages" of preparing a bid for 21st Century Fox - an offer dependent on the ruling in the AT&T-Time Warner anti-trust case, which is expected later today.

After the decision, Mr Petrocelli said: "We were surprised when the case was brought and as I said in closing arguments, it's a case that never should have been brought".

AT&T and other wireless carriers need to find new sources of revenue as the mobile phone market stagnates and more customers abandon pricey cable and satellite packages for streaming services they can watch on their phones or televisions. The company could offer to sell off assets that the government says could contribute to anti-competitive practices.

The biggest impact of this deal will be felt quickly, as Comcast will now formally make an offer to Fox for the majority of its assets. But Leon took the unusual step of urging the government to avoid asking for an injunction that could prevent the merger from occurring while any appeal is pending.

A Comcast-Fox deal would be another vertical merger, like the AT&T-Time Warner deal.

Comcast readying new bid for 20th Century Fox film and TV assets

On Tuesday, Wall Street considered Leon's decision a "canary in the coal mine" - or an indicator for whether Comcast could go ahead with an all-cash hostile bid for parts of 21st Century Fox. (Again, AT&T's recent success seems to indicate that the government is fine with these huge acquisitions, so that may not be a factor.) Should Fox choose Comcast over Disney, Comcast will also pay Fox a $1.525 billion break-up fee that Fox would have to pay to Disney for backing out of their previous agreement.

When a federal judge rejected the Justice Department's suit against the Time Warner deal, it was seen as an endorsement of so-called vertical mergers - combinations that include both media distribution and the programming itself.

Because of AT&T's ownership of DirecTV, it can drive a harder bargain with other distributors that want Time Warner content, the government's lawyers argued during the trial. Companies in many industries may feel more free to strike deals as a result of Leon's ruling. United Kingdom regulators have given the OK to that offer if Fox sells Sky News. It was, Trump said, "a deal we will not approve in my administration".

But on Tuesday, Judge Richard Leon threw out the justice department's objections to AT&T's takeover of Time Warner. The telecom would also have an interest in getting cable subscribers to switch from their providers to DirectTV (which AT&T already owns). But Leon blocked discovery on certain White House communications that AT&T and Time Warner were seeking, and the companies dropped that defense, choosing to litigate the case on pure antitrust grounds.

"We're disappointed that it took 18 months to get here", he added, "but we are relieved that it's finally behind us".

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