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AT&T, T-Mobile Deal Has Benefits, House Judiciary Chair Says

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Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) -- AT&T Inc.’s proposed $39 billion purchase of T-Mobile USA Inc. has benefits that should be carefully considered by authorities reviewing the transaction, Lamar Smith, chairman of the U.S. House of Representatives’ Judiciary Committee, said in a letter to federal regulators.

There’s “at least as much evidence” in support of the deal as against it, Smith, a Republican from Texas, said in an Aug. 1 letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and Federal Communications Chairman Julius Genachowski. The merger could “improve mobile service for my constituents and others throughout the nation,” Smith wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by Bloomberg News.

Last month, Senators Herb Kohl and Al Franken urged the FCC and the Justice Department to block the transaction. Franken said the deal would raise prices for consumers, cost “thousands” of jobs and stifle innovation in a letter to both agencies on July 26. Kohl said in a July 20 letter the agencies should block the merger because it would harm competition and consumers.

“Unfortunately, they provided you with only one side of the story,” Smith wrote.

Smith urged the agencies to “carefully weigh all of the evidence, including the many benefits of this transaction, before coming to a conclusion.”

Franken, a Minnesota Democrat, is a member of the Judiciary Committee that oversees the Justice Department. Kohl, a Wisconsin Democrat, is the chairman of the panel’s antitrust subcommittee. The House Judiciary Committee held a hearing on the proposed AT&T-T-Mobile merger May 26.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sara Forden in Washington at sforden@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Hytha at mhytha@bloomberg.net.