Judge sceptical of AT&T's focus on DoJ trial

Judge sceptical of AT&T's focus on DoJ trial
U.S. judge sceptical of AT&T's reasoning for focusing on DoJ court case.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) said on Friday that it would move to stay or dismiss its lawsuit aiming to halt the proposed merger of AT&T and T-Mobile USA, citing the carriers' decision to withdraw an application for approval from the Federal Communication Commission.

The DoJ's lead attorney in the case, Joseph Wayland, told U.S. district judge Ellen Huvelle that the DoJ doesn't consider it a real transaction until both companies file with the FCC for approval.

AT&T and Deutsche Telekom had hoped to focus only on the Department of Justice case for now. If both companies won in court, they would then refile with the FCC. The communications regulator moved in November to send the proposed merger to an administrative judge, widely seen as disapproval of the deal. The FCC confirmed its stance with the release of a damning staff report that dismissed the competition and economic claims made by AT&T to regulators when seeking approval.

AT&T's attorney Mark Hansen told Judge Huvelle that the issues being raised by the DoJ and the FCC are basically the same, saying that if they won the case in court, they would later refile with the FCC from a position of strength.

Huvelle, however, expressed scepticism about AT&T's push for a speedy resolution, and cited both the withdrawal of the application for approval from the FCC and wide media reports about potential changes to be made to the deal between both firms.

"It's a bit presumptuous to say nothing has changed," Huvelle told Hansen. "You could change the deal in a month... We have no confidence that we're not being spun." Hansen argued that if there is an extended delay to the court proceedings, it effectively gives the DoJ a veto on the deal without having to prove the merits of its case.

The DoJ will move to dismiss or delay the case until the firms refile with the FCC next week, but its unclear when the Judge will decide to rule on the motion.

Written by: James Delahunty @ 11 Dec 2011 9:41
T-Mobile AT&T DOJ
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