can't seem to catch a break in the quest for its $39 billion T-Mobile purchase. Just when it began to garner some support
from U.S. states such as the Louisiana Public Service Commission and 11 state
attorneys general, seven U.S. states have now joined the Department of
to kill the merger, agreeing that such a deal would be anticompetitive and bad for
According to Andy Gavil, an antitrust law professor at Howard University, this
could certainly complicate AT&T's chances of succeeding with its T-Mobile
venture because additional support against the merger will likely force the
case to be fully litigated, where the Department of Justice and the states will
not be pressured to settle on bad terms.
"We have had an excellent working relationship with a number of state
attorneys general and they have provided invaluable assistance throughout our
investigation," said the Department of Justice in a statement.
"Together, we will seek to protect consumers from the anticompetitive harm
that would result from this proposed transaction."
AT&T responded to the additional state opposition by saying that it is not
"unusual" for this to happen, and that several other state attorneys
general support the merger.
"We will continue to seek an expedited hearing on the DOJ's
complaint," said AT&T Spokesman Michael Balmoris. "On a parallel
path, we have been and remain interested in a solution that addresses the DOJ's
issues with the T-Mobile merger."
Federal Judge Ellen Huvelle will hold a hearing Wednesday, September 21 on a
schedule for the DOJ's case. The DOJ has proposed a separate filing for a
hearing date of March 19, 2012, and said that AT&T and T-Mobile requested a
January 16, 2012 trial date.
has tried several tactics to persuade the government to allow the high-profile
merger since its announcement in March, such as promising 5,000 wireless call
center jobs to U.S. citizens. While AT&T Chairman and CEO says the
merger would improve network quality, strengthen/expand critical infrastructure
and bring advanced LTE capabilities to users, many are wary of the potential
anticompetitive results of the deal.
If the case is not settled by September 2012, AT&T will be required to pay
a $6 billion penalty, which is likely the reason it seeks an expedited hearing
of the DOJ's complaints.