AT&T judge may end T-Mobile merger plan by stopping US lawsuit

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AT&T Inc. (T)s (S) plan to buy T-Mobile USA Inc. was placed in further jeopardy after a federal judge agreed to consider a request by the U.S. to postpone or dismiss its lawsuit seeking to block the deal.

Lawyers for AT&T and T-Mobile, saying the government’s suit against them had turned into their best hope to complete the transaction, urged U.S. District Judge Ellen Segal Huvelle in Washington to keep the case on track for a Feb. 13 trial. The U.S. argued the case may be moot after AT&T withdrew its merger application at the Federal Communications Commission.

A decision to dismiss or delay the Justice Department’s case would put the deal all but out of reach for AT&T. The company’s strategy for regulatory approval rests on winning a favorable court decision it could use at the FCC to argue that the transaction isn’t anticompetitive. Without such a ruling, AT&T has no chance of getting the deal done, T-Mobile’s lawyer, George Cary, told Huvelle at a hearing yesterday.

Full story: AT&T Judge May End T-Mobile Merger Plan by Stopping U.S. Lawsuit – Bloomberg.

Kells Hetherington