It was a year of empire building and then consolidation at what’s left of the old Ma Bell. CEO Randall Stephenson finally got regulators to sign off on his $104 billion acquisition (including debt) of Time Warner in June, despite President Trump’s objections. The deal—adding a movie studio plus the cable programming empire that includes CNN and HBO—helped boost AT&T’s revenue by 6% to $171 billion for the year. But continued customer losses from Stephenson’s last acquisition, DirecTV, and the heavy debt load hurt the bottom line and net income declined 34% to $19 billion. The company’s stock price dropped 27% for the year. Now the challenge is stemming the loss of satellite cord cutters while meshing the clashing cultures in the media and telecommunications sides of the business. Perhaps AT&T’s new super-fast 5G wireless network will come to the rescue. A slow rollout in parts of 12 cities at the end of 2018 should accelerate in 2019 and reach nationwide coverage within a few years.
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Attorneys general are concerned about lowered competition, the impact on lower-income people, and a rush by the administration to greenlight the deal.
This is your Data Sheet newsletter for Friday, June 7, 2019.
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