Despite the fact that the AT&T/SBC merger and the Verizon/MCI merger are pretty much done deals, federal judge Emmet Sullivan says he has no intention of "rubber-stamping" the deals. Sullivan, a judge in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, is taking his role seriously under the Tunney Act, a 1974 anti-trust law that calls for courts to scrutinize agreements negotiated between the Justice Department and the companies involved to make sure the deals are in the public's interest.
This summer, Sullivan said he was concerned that the consent decrees negotiated by the U.S. Department of Justice with both AT&T/SBC and Verizon/MCI may not go far enough to ensure that the deals are not anticompetitive. The DOJ had approved both consent decrees under the condition that some fiber-optic facilities would be divested. It's not clear whether a federal judge can retroactively change the conditions of the two mergers, which already closed, but Sullivan could have an impact on how the DOJ scrutinizes the pending merger between AT&T and BellSouth.
For more about the court's role in telecom mega mergers:
- check out this article from CNET