By Drew FitzGerald
A top AT&T Inc. executive warned for the first time that the company is unsure about the timing of its planned takeover of Time Warner Inc., as the combination of the telecom and media giants faces extended antitrust review.
John Stephens, AT&T's chief financial officer, said Wednesday at an investor conference that the timing of the transaction was "now uncertain." Just a few weeks ago, he told investors the company still expected the transaction to close later this year. Mr. Stephens didn't say anything Wednesday to suggest the deal won't be approved but pulled back from that earlier guidance.
AT&T agreed last year to buy Time Warner, the owner of HBO, CNN and Warner Bros. studios, in a cash-and-stock deal worth $85 billion. The Wall Street Journal last week reported the Justice Department was laying the groundwork for a possible lawsuit to stop the deal while at the same time negotiating with company executives.
Shares of Time Warner fell 2% in Wednesday premarket trading, while AT&T shares rose slightly. AT&T shares have fallen sharply in recent weeks and Time Warner shares are trading at a wide discount to the implied offer price, as investors worry about the deal.
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