AT&T, Time Warner extend merger deadline as U.S. Justice Department signoff still eludes


AT&T and Time Warner have pushed out the closing deadline for their $85 billion merger as the companies are still seeking antitrust approval from the U.S. Justice Department.

After the Oct. 22 deadline passed over the weekend without the deal being finalized, the companies filed with the SEC to extend the termination period for a “short period of time to facilitate obtaining final regulatory approval required to close the merger.”

The extension comes after AT&T last week earned the blessing of Brazilian antitrust agency Conselho Administrativo de Defesa Econômica (CADE). CADE’s approval came with conditions but will not require AT&T nor Time Warner to divest any assets.

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With CADE signing off, AT&T and Time Warner have earned all necessary regulatory approvals outside the U.S. and need only the Justice Department’s OK. The companies are still expecting the deal to close by the end of 2017.

Earlier this month, Wells Fargo analyst Jennifer Fritzsche said her firm expects the deal could close this month.

“Brazil is reportedly expected to approve the deal during a 10/18 regulatory meeting, if not sooner, and we believe the U.S. approval will follow in short order. Checks would imply discussions around concessions are now happening. While we do not know what is included in these negotiations, the fact that this is a vertical merger should help the combined company's cause,” wrote Fritzsche in a research note.

Looking ahead, she expects the combined AT&T-Time Warner to become a heavier hitter in the advertising market.

“This multi-tentacle distribution makes it unique in a crowded field, in our view. One benefit that we believe is underappreciated by the Street is T's much improved advertising platform—post TWX. We would expect advertising and the opportunity there to become a larger part of the company's talking points post deal close,” wrote Fritzsche.