The long in the works, and long in the courts, AT&T and Time Warner merger has officially been approved. The final decision from Judge Richard Leon has been handed down and rejects the government argument it would hurt pay-TV consumers and competition.
As a result, the two companies will be allowed to merge in a deal, first put forth nearly two years ago, that is valued at $85 billion. The crucially important ruling will have major implications on the media landscape moving forward and specifically on future large scale mergers of media multinationals.
The biggest impact of this deal will be felt right away in regards to 21st Century Fox with Comcast now free and clear to formally make an offer for the majority of Fox’s assets. Fox agreed in December to sell their entertainment assets (20th Century Fox, regional sports and parts of Hulu & Sky) to Disney for a $52 billion stock offer, but Comcast is expected to imminently offer Fox $60 billion in straight cash.
Fox shareholders will vote on both proposals next week. If Fox pulls out of the Disney deal there will be a penalty fee, but the Comcast offer more than covers it and still offers a much bigger profit return.