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AT&T : antitrust officials have discussed shedding CNN in mega-deal for Time Warner

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11/10/2017 | 01:46pm CEST

AT&T could sell off CNN and its parent, Turner Broadcasting, as part of the telecom giant`s proposed mega-deal for the entertainment company Time Warner, three people briefed on the matter said Wednesday.

But the people provided contradictory accounts over who first proposed shedding the Turner assets. Two people familiar with the matter said AT&T had volunteered the idea -- and that the Justice Department`s anti-trust division had flatly rejected the proposal. But another person said the idea came from the Department of Justice. All three people spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the private negotiations freely.

The revelation Wednesday about AT&T`s antitrust discussions came hours after a top executive told investors he is no longer confident that a deal will be completed this year.

AT&T is seeking federal approval for an $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, one of the nation`s largest entertainment conglomerates that, in addition to Turner, also owns HBO and Warner Bros, which produces films such as the upcoming "Justice League" movie and the Harry Potter series.

But it is the fate of CNN that could prove the most explosive element of the deal.

If CNN is divested, the White House could face questions about whether it influenced the deal for political reasons. Trump has repeatedly criticized CNN for biased coverage of his campaign and administration. He also said at a rally before the inauguration that the AT&T-Time Warner tie-up would be "too much concentration of power in the hands of too few."

The jab at AT&T and Time Warner shocked policy experts who said presidents and candidates for office generally avoid commenting on pending deals for fear of influencing - or appearing to influence - the process.

Trump recently appointed Makan Delrahim to head the anti-trust division at the Justice Department. Delrahim is regarded in Washington as a politically savvy antitrust expert, and was a vocal supporter of Trump`s in 2016.

(c) 2017 | NMH Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info)., source Middle East & North African Newspapers

Stocks mentioned in the article
ChangeLast1st jan.
AT&T 1.02% 33.78 Delayed Quote.-13.99%
TIME WARNER 0.00%-End-of-day quote.7.98%
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Financials ($)
Sales 2018 173 B
EBIT 2018 32 531 M
Net income 2018 20 284 M
Debt 2018 170 B
Yield 2018 5,92%
P/E ratio 2018 11,67
P/E ratio 2019 11,64
EV / Sales 2018 2,40x
EV / Sales 2019 2,19x
Capitalization 245 B
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Mean consensus HOLD
Number of Analysts 29
Average target price 35,2 $
Spread / Average Target 4,3%
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Managers
NameTitle
Randall L. Stephenson Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer
John J. Stephens CFO, Principal Accounting Officer & Senior EVP
Joyce M. Roché Independent Director
Laura D'Andrea Tyson Independent Director
Matthew K. Rose Lead Independent Director
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