The AT&T and T-Mobile merger deal is officially dead. After months of seeking FCC approval and facing several road blocks, including a lawsuit from the DOJ, AT&T has finally succumbed to defeat and issued a statement today announcing that it is dropping its proposed bid to takeover T-Mobile for $39 billion.
AT&T's strategy to sell off assets until regulators looked more fondly at its T-Mobile USA acquisitions have stalled, it's reported, with the carrier simply unable to shed sufficient weight to sway the deal in its favor. Execs at the two carriers had hoped that, by scything off more than 30-percent of T-Mobile USA, the US Justice Department might soften its stance on potential anti-competitiveness concerns about the deal; however, negotiations with Leap Wireless and Dish Network stuttered over the past two weeks, the WSJ reports, amid the growing realization that it still wouldn't be enough to fully convince the agency.
For months now we've been hearing that AT&T and T-Mobile have been going back and forth with various investigatory boards, the FCC, the Department of Justice, their grandmothers, and today its come to light that AT&T is considering "recutting" its original $39 billion dollar deal for T-Mobile USA in light of U.S. antitrust authorities ever-rising opposition. The antitrust case at hand has been postponed in face of the possible recutting, and both AT&T and the Justice Department have joined in asking the judge to postpone all proceedings in the court until January 18th, 2012 -- that way everyone can take a rest and drink some egg-nog while they mull everything over.
According to the Wall Street Journal, the antitrust lawsuit against AT&T's T-Mobile merger may be either postponed or withdrawn by the Department of Justice sometime next week. DOJ lawyer Joseph Wayland explained that the expedited court proceedings were no longer needed since AT&T had withdrawn its merger application from the FCC. But this isn't necessarily good news for AT&T.
AT&T has lashed back at the FCC over its comments regarding the T-Mobile USA acquisition, calling preliminary analysis "obviously one-sided" and "an advocacy piece, and not a considered analysis." Penned by Jim Cicconi, AT&T's Senior Executive Vice President of External & Legislative Affairs, the rebuke claims the FCC report "cherry-picks facts to support its views, and ignores facts that don't" while "where facts were lacking, the report speculates, with no basis, and then treats its own speculations as if they were fact."
Judging from all the rumors, it seems like that AT&T is looking at all of its remaining options in light of its withdrawn attempt to acquire T-Mobile USA from parent company Deutsche Telekom AG. Wall Street Journal gives us the latest possible scenario, which is the possibility of AT&T and Deutsche Telekom teaming up together for a joint venture should the acquisition deal ultimately fall apart. And this would be apparently be a partnership that would entail the two telecom giants pooling their infrastructure together.
During a conference call today, the FCC announced that it will accept AT&T's request to withdraw its application for the T-Mobile merger. The agency also revealed that it will be releasing findings today of what it uncovered from reviewing the merger application, but some portions will be redacted.
One of the tricks that some analysts are saying AT&T might be able to use to revive its dying deal to purchase T-Mobile is to agree to sell off more of the T-Mobile assets to other carriers. The catch is that the sell off would need to be made to a smaller carrier according to some rather than to Verizon. AT&T has apparently decided to try that tactic.
AT&T's bid to purchase T-Mobile for $39 billion has collapsed following reports that the FCC was requesting an administrative hearing regarding the deal. In a pre-emptive move, AT&T withdrew its T-Mobile proposal from the FCC and added the $4 billion breakup charge to its Q4 2011 finances. However, a source from Bloomberg is now claiming that AT&T may be considering one last plea of offering to sell more assets to save the T-Mobile deal.
AT&T and Deutsche Telekom's decision to withdraw their FCC merger application yesterday is a sign that the deal is dead in the water, analysts and industry agrees, with the final question not whether the acquisition goes ahead but how much pain each carrier suffers as it fails. Deutsche Telecom is expected to in effect sink T-Mobile USA rather than commit the investments the carrier needs in order to remain competitive in the US market, though the exact way in which the company would be shuttered is unclear.