In October of 2016, AT&T made waves when it announced plans to buy Time Warner for $85 billion. AT&T has been active in pursuing growth through mergers and acquisitions. It famously failed in its attempt to acquire T-Mobile in 2011, but was ultimately successful in merging with DirecTV in 2015. Critics of the Time Warner deal were quick to identify this deal as a merger that would lead to an anti-competitive market situation for AT&T, chief among those critics was Donald Trump who, at the time, was on the campaign trail.
As evidenced in the video above, Donald Trump stated that his administration would not approve this merger due to concerns of too much concentration of power.
What power will President-Elect Trump actually have to stop this deal? The answer is complicated. The POTUS cannot unilaterally stop a merger of two companies. The proposed merger must be flagged by the U.S. Justice Department or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and then the agency that flags the merger must convince a federal judge to agree to halt the deal.
Certainly the President has the ability to influence the Justice Department, the FTC and Federal Judges through appointments, and President-Elect Trump has given every impression of his intentions to vocally intervene and apply pressure to regulatory matters. However, ultimately, this is another situation where observers will need to wait and see how Donald Trump will act once in office.
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