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DoJ, AT&T Put T-Mobile Antitrust Case on Hold

Sarah Thomas

The U.S. Department of Justice and AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) agree on one thing when it comes to AT&T's bid to acquire T-Mobile US Inc. : They need more time.

The two, along with T-Mobile parent company Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), have asked a federal judge to stay any legal proceedings in the DoJ's antitrust case against the two carriers until Jan. 18, 2012. AT&T and DT need more time to evaluate their options, AT&T said, but it isn't giving up on the deal just yet.

“We are actively considering whether and how to revise our current transaction to achieve the necessary regulatory approvals so that we can deliver the capacity enhancements and improved customer service that can only be derived from combining our two companies' wireless assets," the carrier said in a statement. AT&T will update the court on its intentions on Jan. 12.

Why this matters
While both the DoJ and the wireless operators want to postpone the antitrust trial against AT&T, set to begin in February, the reasoning is different. Ticked off by AT&T withdrawing its Federal Communications Commission (FCC) application, the Justice Department is hoping to draw out the proceedings and convince AT&T to walk away. (See DoJ Wants to Postpone AT&T/T-Mobile Trial.)

But, AT&T, which pulled the FCC app in order to focus on winning DoJ approval, has realized it genuinely needs the extra time in the face of dwindling prospects. The carrier plans to regroup with T-Mobile to think of a new plan -- potentially one with many concessions -- to see the acquisition approved. (See FCC OKs AT&T’s Merger Application Withdrawal and AT&T Withdraws T-Mobile Merger Application .)

For more
Check our extensive merger coverage here. — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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