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AT&T chief ‘very confident’ of Time-Warner deal approval

Randall Stephenson

Randall Stephenson

AT&T chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson is “very confident” that the company’s planned merger with Time-Warner will receive a green light, he told CNBC in an interview recorded at the World Economic Forum in Davos on Tuesday.

“This is vertical merger. The competitive environment in telecoms does not change after this deal closes. The competitive environment in media and entertainment does not change. The concentrations are the same. Nothing is different,” Stephenson told CNBC. “As long as the law is applied, this is a deal that’s got to be approved.”

Stephenson said that hostility to deal would “begin to fade once the details are in front of the public”. He said it was a “basic vertical merger”.

President-elect Donald Trump has previously publicly voiced his hostility to the US$85 billion merger as being “too big” and said he would oppose as part of his campaign to tame an over-powerful mainstream media. However, more recently he has moderated his stance, saying that he had yet to study the facts.

In his public statements during the presidential campaign, Trump specifically highlighted the fact that the merged company would include CNN.

Speaking to CNBC at Davos, Stephenson said that CNN was not relevant to securing approval because it did not raise any competition concerns.