updated 12:50 pm EDT, Fri November 4, 2011
ATT sees at least temporary setback from DOJ suit
AT&T in an SEC filing late Thursday slipped out that it expected at least some delay in its attempted merger with T-Mobile. After originally telling investors that it planned to close the deal in or before early 2012, roughly a year after signalling its plans, it now expected the deal to close in the "first half" of the year. It reiterated the known $3 billion breakup fee if the deal is blocked or falls apart, as well as the required spectrum transfers and roaming deals.
If it goes to trial, the closure date could be optimistic given the months or more that most trials take months or more to complete.
The mention shows AT&T anticipating at least some difficulty stemming from the Department of Justice lawsuit and the recently toned down Sprint and C Spire lawsuits. Both the public and private organizations believe the deal is anti-competitive and are at least doubtful that any concessions, like giving up coverage areas, would change AT&T's position.
AT&T has argued that the deal would significantly improve wireless capacity, create jobs, and help it get LTE-based 4G out to 97 percent of the population. Countering arguments have said that most mergers give up jobs and have pointed to AT&T's own estimate early this year that it might only need $3.8 billion to get to its LTE goal.
Along with its regulatory details, it also acknowledged that the end of iPhone exclusivity this year might affect its subscriber ranks, although not its income. Having more Android phones and other non-iOS hardware on its network helped partly offset the difference through a lighter subsidy on each phone sold.