AT&T Inc said on Saturday it agreed to buy Time Warner Inc for $85.4 billion, the boldest move yet by a telecommunications company to acquire content to stream over its high-speed network to attract a growing number of online viewers.
The biggest deal in the world this year will, if approved by regulators, give AT&T control of cable TV channels HBO and CNN, film studio Warner Bros and other coveted media assets. The tie-up will likely face intense scrutiny by US antitrust enforcers worried that AT&T might try to limit distribution of Time Warner material.
AT&T will pay $107.50 per Time Warner share, half in cash and half in stock, worth $85.4 billion overall, according to a company statement. AT&T said it expected to close the deal by the end of 2017.
Dallas-based AT&T said the U.S. Department of Justice would review the deal and that it and Time Warner were determining which Federal Communications Commission licenses, if any, would be transferred to AT&T in the deal.
US lawmakers were already worried about cable company Comcast Corp’s $30 billion acquisition of NBCUniversal, creating an industry behemoth. Several argued for close regulatory scrutiny of the AT&T deal.
“Such a massive consolidation in this industry requires rigorous evaluation and serious scrutiny,” said US Senator Richard Blumenthal, former attorney general of Connecticut. “I will be looking closely at what this merger means for consumers and their pocketbooks.”
US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said at a rally on Saturday he would block any AT&T-Time Warner deal if he wins the November 8 election. Trump has complained about media coverage of his campaign, especially by Time Warner’s CNN.
“It’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” said Trump.
Representatives of his Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.