AT&T executives, including CEO Randall Stephenson, met today with President-elect Donald Trump, presumably to discuss the proposed merger between the telco and Time Warner.
Update: AT&T said after the Trump meeting that the Time Warner merger was not discussed, according to Bloomberg. However, there is no way to determine if that is true.
It’s unclear when the meeting was scheduled. But the merger’s chances took a major hit yesterday when Trump sharply criticized a CNN reporter at a press conference and called the news network a “fake news” operation. The remarks certainly added urgency to AT&T’s interest in talking to Trump about the deal.
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CNN is owned by Time Warner and Bloomberg News has reported earlier this month that the president-elect may squash the AT&T-Time Warner merger because he’s incensed with the news network’s negative coverage of him.
Trump’s current ire was drawn this week when CNN reported that intelligence officers have told him that Russia has incriminating evidence against him. That story, and Trump’s angry exchange yesterday with CNN reporter Jim Acosta, certainly didn’t improve his feeling about AT&T-Time Warner.
AT&T is likely to trying to determine today if Trump’s opposition to the Time Warner merger is final, or could be reversed if the telco met certain conditions, such as perhaps selling off CNN.
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If Trump tells the AT&T execs that he won’t support the merger under any circumstance — whether it’s because of CNN or other reasons — it could trigger a response from the telco to dissolve the merger before even proposing it to the Justice Department, and perhaps the Federal Communications Commission, for approval.
— Phillip Swann