AT&T-Time Warner Merger Breezes Through EU Approval

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By Eleanor Tyler

AT&T Inc.'s proposed $85.4 billion merger with Time Warner Inc. cleared competition review in the European Union competition commission on March 15, two days ahead of schedule.

The European Commission’s clearance is an important step for the pending deal. But it doesn’t predict how other merger authorities, including the U.S., will approach it because each country evaluates how the parties compete in their own markets.

The EU competition commission said that the merger poses no concerns in its jurisdiction because Time Warner and AT&T don’t compete with each other at all in European markets. According to the EU, AT&T provides only business telecommunications services within the common market, while Time Warner operates in global media entertainment services markets like television and video distribution, home entertainment, feature film and video games.

The turnaround at the EU was quick. The parties notified EU regulators of the merger on Feb. 10, and the commission had set March 17 as a provisional deadline for a decision. The review qualified for the EU’s simplified procedure, which the commission uses when merging firms don’t compete in the same markets or have negligible market shares where they do compete.

AT&T said in a press release that the global clearance process for the deal is “on track, and we look forward to creating a company that will lead the next wave of innovation in the media and telecommunications industries.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Eleanor Tyler in Washington at etyler@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Fawn Johnson at fjohnson@bna.com

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