Justice Department Wants AT&T to Sell CNN, Turner or DirecTV

Time Warner Inc. (TWX) Shares Sold by Beach Point Capital Management LP

Time Warner Inc. (TWX) Shares Sold by Beach Point Capital Management LP

"AT&T is buying Time Warner, and thus CNN, a deal we will not approve in my administration because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few", he said at an October 2016 rally in Gettysburg, Pa. Time Warner comprises 16.0% of Beach Point Capital Management LP's holdings, making the stock its 2nd largest position. U.S. President Donald Trump, a frequent critic of Time Warner's CNN, attacked the deal on the campaign trail previous year, vowing that as president his Justice Department would block it.

The New York Times and the Financial Times also reported Wednesday afternoon that the DOJ was demanding the sale of CNN or Turner as a condition of approving the deal.

Speculation about the Trump administration having pushed the Department of Justice to require the sale of CNN began as soon as the FT's story was published.

If approved, the deal would merge AT&T's wireless and broadband business with media assets like Warner Bros., HBO, and Turner's cable networks. According to three people briefed on the conversation, Delrahim told Stephenson that if AT&T wanted the D.O.J.to green-light the $85 billion mega merger, he would have have to either sell Turner Broadcasting, the parent entity of CNN, which AT&T would acquire as part of the deal, or sell DirecTV, the satellite provider AT&T acquired in 2015.

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The timing of the deal, originally expected to close by the end of the year, is now uncertain, AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens said Wednesday.

Trump, of course, is no fan of CNN, which he berates as "fake news" at every opportunity. And President Donald Trump, no fan of Time Warner-owned CNN, vowed, when he was a candidate, to block the deal if elected because it concentrated too much "power in the hands of too few".

During the presidential campaign a year ago, he vowed to block it, saying it would create too large an organisation.

But the Justice Department has historically been insulated from political pressure.

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"By immediately lowering the corporate tax rate to 20 percent, this bill will stimulate investment, job creation and economic growth in the United States", said Randall Stephenson, AT&T chief executive. Without an agreement, the Justice Department would sue to block the merger - as soon as next week, one of the people said. Of course, there was always the specter of interference from CNN-hating Big Bad Wolf Trump. Trump has repeatedly criticized CNN for biased coverage of his campaign and administration. "With regards to the transaction, everything continues as we've expressed in the past".

Trump was quoted criticizing the DOJ several times last week.

But Stephens reiterated confidence in the deal at Wednesday's Wells Fargo conference, saying "these types of mergers bring great benefit to customers and have very routinely been approved by the DOJ and the federal government".

Time Warner shares fell 6.3 percent at 2:54 p.m.to $88.68, compared with the $107.50 offer price.

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