DOJ: Lawsuit against AT&T justified

The chief antitrust enforcer at the U.S. Department of Justice denied speculation that the agency's lawsuit to block AT&T's (NYSE:T) $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA amounts to a sue-first, make-concessions-second strategy.

"I wouldn't call it a preemptive lawsuit of any kind," Sharis Pozen, the department's acting antitrust chief, said during remarks at Georgetown University Law Center. Pozen said the agency's antitrust objections to the $39 billion deal "couldn't be clearer."

When the DOJ filed its lawsuit last month, AT&T said it was caught off guard. The two are now headed to trial on Feb. 13.

AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said that the company's discussions in court defending its proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA will center on the efficiencies that will result from the deal.

Speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Conference, Stephenson said AT&T is simultaneously prepared to fight the government and the court and look for ways to come to a settlement with the Justice Department, which has sued to block the deal on antitrust grounds. Stephenson said the deal will result in capacity increases of 30 to 35 percent in some markets if AT&T and T-Mobile's spectrum and network assets are combined.

"Efficiencies will be the core of the debate in court," he said, adding that over the past decade as there has been more consolidation in the wireless industry, prices have come down. "It's an industry where efficiencies are critical to keeping prices in check," he said.

For more:
- see this Dow Jones article
- see this FierceWireless article

Related articles:
AT&T's Stephenson: We will argue for efficiencies from T-Mobile deal
AT&T promises LTE downlink speeds of 5-12 Mbps
Sprint's Hesse: DOJ lawsuit against AT&T/T-Mobile won't prevent consolidation
Cellular South jumps into fray, sues to block AT&T/T-Mobile
Analysts see network-sharing arrangement if AT&T/T-Mobile merger collapses

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