DOJ questions validity of deal between AT&T and T-Mobile

AT&T's (NYSE:T) decision to withdraw its application to purchase T-Mobile USA at the FCC is prompting the Department of Justice to question whether AT&T's proposed deal is still alive.

Since AT&T withdrew its license transfer application at the FCC, the agency says a withdrawal means an intent to "abandon the transaction altogether" or to submit a new, substantially changed application. AT&T decided to withdraw the application after the FCC announced its staff concluded that the proposed $39 billion deal was contrary to the public interest. The commission was going to refer the matter to an administrative law judge.

AT&T said it wanted to focus on gaining approval with the DOJ, which filed an antitrust lawsuit against the operator opposing the deal. A trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 13.

However, Richard Levie, a special master overseeing the DOJ's antitrust case against the merger, said he believes the DOJ case can move forward without a license transfer application filed at the FCC.

"The FCC-related activities have not ... altered the status of this litigation," Levie wrote in an order. "Although FCC approval is necessary for the proposed merger, so, too, is a favorable ruling from the federal court in this case. As there is no requirement of which the Special Master is aware that one approval must come before the other, the federal court case remains on track."

For more:
- see this Computerworld article

Related articles:
AT&T/T-Mobile's network-sharing 'Plan B' is new ground for U.S. market
Judge allows Sprint, C Spire to continue AT&T/T-Mobile legal battle
Department of Justice sues to block AT&T/T-Mobile deal
AT&T, DOJ headed for February trial over T-Mobile USA buy

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