Democratic lawmakers urge Obama to settle AT&T/T-Mobile case

A group of 15 Democratic House lawmakers sent a letter urging President Obama and the Department of Justice to reach a speedy settlement with AT&T (NYSE:T) over its proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA, which the government has sued to block. 

The effort, led by Rep. Heath Shuler (D-N.C.), underscores the level to which the deal has become a political hot potato. In the letter, the lawmakers urged the administration to resolve concerns the Justice Department has with the deal. The lawmakers said the deal will lead to job creation as the networks are merged and upgraded, and it will also lead to expanded LTE access, which will foster more jobs--all points AT&T has made in its defense of the deal.

"We recognize that the Department of Justice has intervened in the merger to ensure competitive markets and protect consumers," the letter said. "Addressing these concerns through a settlement agreement that ensures robust competition while preserving the job creation, capital infrastructure investment and wireless broadband deployment benefits of the merger should be the department's goal."

U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle, who is overseeing the lawsuit, ordered the government and AT&T to be prepared to come to court Sept. 21 to discuss the prospects of a settlement. AT&T CFO John Stephens said Thursday at an investor conference that while AT&T is fighting the lawsuit in court, it remains open to negotiating a settlement of some kind with the Justice Department.

Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S), which has also filed suit to block the deal, issued a statement that said the deal will eliminate tens of thousands of jobs across the country.

"The flawed economic study embraced by AT&T and its union ignores what Wall Street investors and the federal government have been already been promised: that the overall investment for the combined companies will be substantially reduced if the proposed transaction closes," Sprint said. "At the moment, this matter is before the courts, not Congress, and we are confident that the Department of Justice decision to prosecute this unlawful transaction is the right one for consumers, for competition, and for the economy as a whole."

For more:
- see this release
- see this Reuters article
- see this The Hill article

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