The Department of Justice may be waging war to roll back AT&T and Time Warner’s $85 billion merger, but for the CEO in charge of the lion’s share of AT&T’s revenue, the bite seems to register as a tickle.
“We don’t spend a lot of energy right now [on the DoJ], we’re focused on integration,” John Donovan, CEO of AT&T’s division that includes entertainment and business said at Fortune’s Brainstorm Reinvent conference in Chicago on Tuesday. “That’s a lawyer activity at this point in the appeal process, so we’re moving ahead and making it work.”
The deal between AT&T and Time Warner closed earlier this year after a federal judge rejected efforts to block the deal based on antitrust concerns. At the time, the acquisition was dubbed a “landmark” case for setting the tone for future mega media mergers.
But the DoJ appealed the approval in July, arguing that such a consolidation could raise prices for consumers while stifling competition. At the time, Washington, DC federal Judge Richard Leon, who had ruled in favor of the the merger, said such an appeal could delay the integration.
In response, AT&T in a filing last week said that the antitrust regulators had yet to prove that the merger would jack up prices. In fact, the filing argued that DirecTV customers could see fees fall by at least $78 million annually as a result of the combination.
“The deal is closed, the government hasn’t given up yet,” Donovan said Tuesday.
Instead, AT&T is focusing its energies on other threats, such as the competition for dominance in 5G, a forthcoming cellular network that’s expected to boost online communication speed. But it’s a welcome fight.
“When you get a new battleground, that when a company gears itself up, and says: ‘This is motivating.'”
The appeal comes as the media industry quickly consolidates. Disney and Fox are awaiting approval by international regulators for their $71.3 billion proposed merger.