FCC Requests Hearing on AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has requested an administrative hearing on AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile US Inc. , a purchase that's looking increasingly unlikely.

The Wall Street Journal first reported the FCC's request for a hearing, ordered by Chairman Julius Genachowski, on Tuesday, and the FCC confirmed the move later in the afternoon. Genachowski says the FCC will circulate a draft order designating the merger for a hearing before Administrative Law Judge Vonya McCann.

The U.S. Department of Justice filed an antitrust suit in August to stop the merger. If the DoJ is unsuccessful in thwarting the merger, it would go to the FCC hearing, in which both sides can make their case on whether the merger is in the public interest. Right now, the trial request is in draft stages, awaiting approval from the other commissioners. (See DoJ Blocks AT&T/T-Mobile Merger.)

Unsurprisingly, merger opponent Sprint Corp. (NYSE: S) issued a statement applauding the move, and AT&T issued one saying they are reviewing all options.

"It is yet another example of a government agency acting to prevent billions in new investment and the creation of many thousands of new jobs at a time when the U.S. economy desperately needs both," AT&T wrote.

Why this matters
Opposition to the merger is louder than ever. With the government officially opposing it, along with a number of wireless operators and consumer groups and 57 percent of Light Reading readers, it's looking increasingly like the merger will not be approved, even if hefty concessions are made. (See Consumers Really Do Oppose AT&T/T-Mobile.) If the merger is not approved, AT&T says it would face significant spectrum constraints, and T-Mobile would lose its only clear path to Long Term Evolution (LTE). (See What Could T-Mobile Do After AT&T? and AT&T: What It Loses Without T-Mobile.) For more
Read up on the legalese surrounding AT&T's acquisition of T-Mobile.

And, all of our coverage related to the merger can be found here. — Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

Duh! 12/5/2012 | 4:48:10 PM
re: FCC Requests Hearing on AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

Y'know.... there was a documentary on the Battle of Stalingrad on PBS last night.  The main lesson: rather than trying to fight a losing battle against superior forces in a disorderly and uncontrolled retreat, better to order an orderly withdrawal to a defensible position, conserve your resources, and position yourself for a counter-offensive at a time and place of your own choosing.  That, and never let your ego get in the way of your strategy.

Perhaps the AT&T board might understand the wisdom of that.

sarahthomas1011 12/5/2012 | 4:48:10 PM
re: FCC Requests Hearing on AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

Bernstein Research put out a note today advising that AT&T withdraws its merger. Given the break-up fee, merger benefits and AT&T having to deal with the DoJ and FCC in the future, what do you think will happen? Will AT&T fight it out to the bitter end?

paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:48:09 PM
re: FCC Requests Hearing on AT&T/T-Mobile Merger

Having grown up near the Saratoga Battlefield (we played Little League Baseball on the spot where Burgoyne's Army surrendered), I thought the lesson was that you really need to get Bendict Arnold to lose a leg for you.  :)

Even if Burgoyne had won the 2nd Battle of Saratoga he was in deep trouble.  It would have been trivial for the Colonials (trying to think of a neutral word there) to trap him in the middle of nowhere.  I think that is the lesson for the T-mobile side.



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