AT&T's (NYSE:T) proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA will face its first test Wednesday morning when the Senate Judiciary Antitrust subcommittee holds its first hearing on the deal.
The hearing is expected to draw testimony from AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson, T-Mobile USA CEO Philipp Humm as well as Dan Hesse, CEO of rival Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S). Sprint is vehemently opposed to the deal, which it argues is anti-competitive. Also expected to testify is opponent Hu Meena, CEO of Cellular South and chairman of the Rural Cellular Association. Other executives expected to testify include Public Knowledge president Gigi Sohn and Communications Workers of America CEO Larry Cohen.
Interestingly, Verizon Wireless (NYSE:VZ) is not planning to attend the hearing. The company has said it is not opposed to the deal but is concerned about excessive government oversight. "We are concerned this is an excuse for the government to insert itself into the marketplace," Tom Tauke, Verizon's executive vice president of public affairs, policy and communication, told the Wall Street Journal.
Lawmakers are expected to ask the CEOs of AT&T and T-Mobile USA whether the deal will create a duopoly and raise rates for consumers.
The hearing, called by subcommittee chair Herb Kohl (D-Wisc.), will be the first in what likely will be many hearings on the deal. Although lawmakers have no direct authority over the transaction, they do have influence over the Justice Department and the FCC--the agencies that are reviewing the deal.
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