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How a Clever Case Could Kill the AT&T-Time Warner Deal

Earlier statements may come back to haunt the companies, and doom their $85 billion merger.
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AT&T Ready to Fight for Time Warner Merger

The Justice Department is citing some surprising authorities in its lawsuit to stop AT&T Inc. from buying Time Warner Inc.—namely the companies themselves. Time and again, the complaint quotes from statements and filings by AT&T and Time Warner to make the government’s case that the $85 billion merger would be bad for customers.

The problem for the would-be merger partners is that government lawyers judiciously picked out earlier utterances that were intended for other audiences. When justifying the merger to investors, the companies repeatedly made the case that their combination would be highly profitable and successful against the competition. And in documents that were submitted to block other media mergers, the companies argued that such mergers can be harmful.