With the proposed takeover of Time Warner by AT&T making steady progress to clear the bureaucracy of the US administration, the biggest obstacle to the deal coming to fruition had been strong pre-election rhetoric by US President-elect Donald Trump.
The President-elect has now taken a step back from his previous position against the takeover. Trump had referred to the deal as “an example of the power structure I am fighting,” during his campaign for the Presidency.
President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday signalled a willingness to change his stance against the proposed AT&T-Time Warner merger, telling Axios on that he has not yet “seen any of the facts.”
“I have been on the record in the past of saying it’s too big and we have to keep competition,” Trump told the website. “So, but other than that, I haven’t, you know, I haven’t seen any of the facts, yet. I’m sure that will be presented to me and to the people within government.”
Stephenson positive in Davos
Stephenson told CNBC in Davos on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum on Tuesday that he feels “very confident the deal gets done,” continuing to explain, “This is a vertical merger; the competitive environment in telecommunications does not change after this deal closes” … “the competitive environment in the media does not change.”
Stephenson dismissed the idea that AT&T should spin off CNN to see the deal approved by regulators, “I don’t know why we’d even talk about that,” he said. “It doesn’t seem relevant to approving a deal like this. What would be the competitive issue that you’re remedying with spinning off CNN? There are not competitive issues with owning CNN.”
In discussing AT&T’s capital spending in the USA, Stephenson said during his interview that, “We spent over the last five years $140 billion [in the United States] … We probably would step our capital spending up.”