The Department of Justice has decided to appeal a federal judge’s decision to approve a merger between AT&T and Time Warner.
Last month U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon OK’d the proposed mega merger clearing the way for the $85 billion deal to go through. The U.S. Justice Department had sued to the prevent the transaction from going through citing anti-trust concerns.
In a lengthy, 172-page decision Leon wrote that the government did not successfully prove the merger would adversely affect the market. “Ultimately, I conclude that the Government has failed to meet its burden to establish that the proposed ‘transaction is likely to lessen competition substantially,’” he wrote.
Also noteworthy, Leon discouraged the government from seeking a stay against his decision and from appealing. “My 170-plus page opinion makes clear — I do not believe that the Government has a likelihood of success on the merits of an appeal,” he wrote.
Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim said at the time, the DOJ was considering what to do next.
By appealing, the case will now go to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. The merger has technically gone through and a new company, WarnerMedia has been created. WarnerMedia remains separate from the remainder of AT&T’s operations.
“The Court’s decision could hardly have been more thorough, fact-based, and well-reasoned. While the losing party in litigation always has the right to appeal if it wishes, we are surprised that the DOJ has chosen to do so under these circumstances. We are ready to defend the Court’s decision at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals,” AT&T General Counsel David McAtee told CNN.
AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said his company was not surprised by the DOJ’s decision to appeal. AT&T is prepared and is “not worried” about the case he said.
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