updated 01:30 pm EST, Fri December 9, 2011
Justice Department moves to delay AT&T lawsuit
The Department of Justice will file a motion with a federal judge to postpone its anti-competition case against AT&T's proposed buyout of rival T-Mobile. The filing will be made next week, The Wall Street Journal reported. Joseph Wayland, the lawyer, said the hastened court proceedings are not needed because the companies involved pulled their FCC merger application.
Wayland continued, saying the DOJ case should be withdrawn until the FCC is again approached by the companies involved for an approval. The case against the merger was originally scheduled for February. Both AT&T and T-Mobile stated earlier that the Department of Justice court case is needed before the proposed merger can occur. The companies pulled the FCC application in order to focus on the Department case, they said.
The deadline for the merger can be extended as late as September. In the meantime, T-Mobile could reconsider its options and maybe even call of the merger. Doing so would invoke a $4 billion breakup fee, however. AT&T had already set aside the money in its finances on the assumption it was unlikely to get the deal.
A postponed or scrapped trial could compound AT&T's situation rather than improve it. AT&T had said it would resubmit to the FCC only when the DOJ antitrust trial had completed. With the trial either frozen or shut down until an application reappears, AT&T would have to either resubmit, and face both the trial and FCC hearing it had tried to avoid, or else give up on the trial entirely.