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Mergers & acquisitions

DoJ Wants to Postpone AT&T/T-Mobile Trial

Now that AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) has said it wants to focus on its U.S. Department of Justice case, the DoJ is saying it doesn't want to deal with AT&T right now.

The DoJ wants to postpone or even cancel its trial relating to the pending AT&T/T-Mobile US Inc. merger, according to news reports Friday. The trial was supposed to happen in February.

The logic goes like this: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has to approve the merger, but AT&T and T-Mobile parent Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT) pulled their FCC application last week, partly to put more focus on getting DoJ approval. (See FCC OKs AT&T’s Merger Application Withdrawal .)

But no application means no FCC approval, which means the deal has lost some of its urgency. Or, that's what DoJ attorney Joseph Wayland has apparently argued; he told the court today that he intends to request a postponement or even withdraw the case.

This came up because U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle is apparently really ticked off about AT&T withdrawing the FCC application. She was holding a hearing to determine whether it still made sense to expedite the trial.

Why this matters
It's not looking good for AT&T. An expert quoted in The Wall Street Journal (registration required) says this is the DoJ's way of forcing AT&T to either go all-in on this deal -- enduring the trials and approval processes -- or to just walk away.

The deal does have a March 20 deadline, which can be extended to September. And DT might be getting more antsy about the uncertainty around T-Mobile. It all adds up to more pressure on AT&T.

For more
You can find all of our coverage related to the merger here.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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