The U.S. Department of Justice’s decision to file a lawsuit in an attempt to block AT&T’s planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile USA caught Deutsche Telekom CEO Rene Obermann off-guard while he was meeting with a team of managers and his supervisory board, a board member told Bloomberg on Thursday. Deutsche Telekom, AT&T and T-Mobile had all been confident that the deal would be approved in March of next year. Speaking during the IFA trade show in Berlin, head of Deutsche Telekom Germany Niek Jan van Damme echoed AT&T’s commitment to continue to fight for the deal’s approval. “We’re staying in it,” Van Damme said. “Other scenarios were not being discussed. When you are in a deal, you stick to that deal, a clear focus on that deal.” Obermann has said his company will work with AT&T to contest the DOJ’s lawsuit, which Van Damme seemed to shrug off. “When it comes to larger M&A deals in the US, these things happen,” he said. “This isn’t an exception. We have everything under control.” If the federal government does successfully block the deal, AT&T will be required to pay T-Mobile USA $6 billion in cash and assets. More →
Earlier on Wednesday, the Senate Subcommittee chairman Senator Herb Kohl urged federal regulators to block AT&T’s planned $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile. On Wednesday afternoon, AT&T responded to Senator Kohl’s recommendation with the following statement:
We respect Senator Kohl. However, we feel his view is inconsistent with antitrust law, is shared by few others, and ignores the many positive benefits and numerous supporters of the transaction. This is a decision that will be made by the Department of Justice and the FCC under applicable law and after a full and fair examination of the facts. We continue to believe those reviews will result in approval of this transaction.
Despite opposition from Kohl and others, AT&T said that there are currently 26 governors, 76 democratic members of congress, 72 mayors, and unions that represent 20 million members that are in favor of the merger and argue that it will be good for consumers, provide jobs, and help the economy. In addition, Senator Mike Lee also made a statement today in support of the AT&T/T-Mobile merger. “The mobile phone market is a critical component of our nation’s economy and the proposed merger between AT&T and T-Mobile deserves careful review,” Lee said. “In my view, the merger has the potential to provide significant network efficiencies that may help alleviate capacity constraints, enable enhanced service quality, and facilitate expansion of a 4G LTE nationwide network, which would in turn create opportunities for handset innovation and continued development of data-rich applications.” Lee also said that he’s confident the FCC and Department of Justice will ensure that the U.S. wireless market remains competitive. More →
Sprint has received subpoenas from Arizona, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas and Washington regarding its opposition of AT&T’s planned $39 billion T-Mobile USA acquisition, Reuters reported on Tuesday. The U.S. Department of Justice’s antitrust division also issued a subpoena. Sprint has been a staunch opponent of the deal and its CEO Dan Hesse has said the acquisition will “stifle innovation” in the U.S. wireless market. He also said that “clearly, purely, [Sprint wants] to win and block the merger,” when it was revealed that Hesse was working with 18 state regulators to block the acquisition. The deal is getting an in-depth investigation from both the Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission. On June 22nd, AT&T’s General Counsel Wayne Watts said that the acquisition was on schedule for approval in March of next year. An AT&T spokesperson told Reuters that AT&T also received the same nine subpoenas. More →
AT&T will pay T-Mobile $3 billion in cash, a $1 billion roaming agreement, and $2 billion in spectrum if the Federal Communications Commission and the Department of Justice reject AT&T’s proposed $39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile. The agreement’s 15% breakup fee would shatter global records, Reuters said, noting that the 7.7% breakup cash agreement is already high. On Wednesday, AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson met with the Senate Judiciary Committee to discuss the acquisition. AT&T’s CEO Randall Stephenson has argued that there’s already plenty of competition in the U.S. wireless market and that the deal will actually create jobs. Similarly, the Communications Workers of America backs the deal and believes it will be a “victory for broadband proponents. AT&T’s competition isn’t so sure. Sprint’s CEO, Dan Hesse said the deal would “stifle innovation” and the carrier believes it would create a “vertically integrated duopoly.” Verizon has kept to itself, but did note that, if confirmed, the deal could be “an excuse for the government to insert itself into the marketplace.” More →
The Department of Justice will perform an “in-depth” investigation of AT&T’s proposition to acquire T-Mobile USA, Reuters is reporting. Such an investigation comes as no surprise, as one FCC official assured the public on April 14th that the acquisition would get a thorough review from government antitrust and communications officials. Bloomberg says that the DoJ can issue a decision in as little as 30 days, however, a “second request,” could mean that the investigation will take longer. AT&T announced its plan to purchase T-Mobile USA from Deutsche Telekom for $39 billion on March 20th. Despite Sprint’s claims that the acquisition will stifle competition in the U.S. wireless market, AT&T has argued that the deal will fuel economic growth and create new jobs. More →
It’s no secret that U.S. wireless provider Sprint is not a fan of the proposed AT&T and T-Mobile merger. The company’s CEO, Dan Hesse, has been very forthcoming with his concerns — mainly that the merger will create a duopoly between AT&T and Verizon Wireless — and now the carrier is looking for even more anti-merger ammunition. Bloomberg is reporting that Sprint representatives have “signed confidentiality agreements in advance of possibly gaining access to filings that won’t be available to the public.” The merger, were it to go through, would relegate Sprint to a distant third-place amongst U.S. wireless carriers, having just over half as many customers as its next competitor, Verizon Wireless. AT&T is seeking FCC and Department of Justice approval for the blockbuster merger that is expected to be complete within the next year. More →
On Tuesday, Verizon Communications agreed to pay $93.5 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the U.S. Justice Department. Verizon was accused of overcharging the U.S. government for both voice and data services. Reuters reports that the the company’s MCI Communications Services unit “invoiced the General Services Administration for various taxes and surcharges in violation of contracts or regulations.” Back in October of 2010, Verizon was ordered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to repay customers more than $52 million for erroneous data charges. More →
The nation’s third largest wireless provider, Sprint Nextel, has issued a statement to voice its concerns over the proposed AT&T and T-Mobile merger. “The combination of AT&T and T-Mobile USA, if approved by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Federal Communications Commission (FCC), would alter dramatically the structure of the communications industry,” writes Sprint. “AT&T and Verizon are already by far the largest wireless providers. A combined AT&T and T-Mobile would be almost three times the size of Sprint, the third largest wireless competitor.” The company went on to say that the merged GSM carriers, along with Verizon Wireless, would control nearly 80% of the postpaid wireless market in the United States. AT&T’s CEO, Ralph de la Vega, has said that the deal should be approved by both government bodies based on historical precedence. “I think if the criteria that has been used in the past is used against this merger, I think the appropriate authorities will find there will still be plenty of competition left,” said de la Vega in a statement to Mobilized. Should the merger fall through, AT&T could owe Deutsche Telekom as much as $3 billion. More →
The U.S. Department of Justice’s investigation of Apple’s alleged anti-competitive practices has grown to include video and other forms of multimedia, the New York Post is reporting. Citing multiple sources, the Post claims that the DoJ has queried several major media companies asking whether or not they feel Apple is in a position of undue influence over their products. A similar investigation focusing on Apple’s dominance in digital music was said to have commenced earlier this week. Whether or not this will eventually lead to a full-blown antitrust lawsuit being slapped against Apple is unclear, but it seems logical that if anyone is going want to do battle with Apple it’s the tough-talking Hollywood folk. As one of the Post’s insiders said, “you can’t dictate terms to the industry.” Trust us, we know. More →
And it has happened once again. The New York Times published an interesting article this evening which alleges that the U.S. Department of Justice has kicked off another anti-trust investigation that focuses in on Apple. Unlike the other two ongoing investigations which deal with Apple’s lockout of Flash in the iPhone OS and its upcoming iAd service, this time around its Apple’s strangle-hold grip on the digital music marketplace that’s getting all of the attention. Here specifically is what the NYT said triggered the investigation.
In March, Billboard magazine reported that Amazon.com was asking music labels to give it the exclusive right to sell certain soon-to-be-released songs for one day before the songs go on sale more widely. In exchange, Amazon promised to include those songs in a promotion on Amazon’s Web site called “MP3 Daily Deal.”
Representatives from Apple’s music service, iTunes, were asking the labels not to take part in Amazon’s promotion, and Apple punished those that did by later withdrawing marketing support for those songs on iTunes, the magazine reported.
So far the Department of Justice has not proceeded past the inquiry stage, but it doesn’t exactly reflect well upon Apple that this is the third time this month the agency has poked its nose in Apple’s affairs. More →
According to The Wall Street Journal, the federal antitrust probe looking into alleged anti-competitive practices by Apple has been extended to include an investigation of Apple’s recently announced iAd service. Citing “people familiar with the matter” (natch), the WSJ reports that both the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission are taking a close look at Apple’s decision to prohibit developers from extrapolating analytical data from users devices. The main concern is that Apple will effectively be able to lock out competing advertising services from the iPhone OS by making it difficult for advertisers to properly target their ads. The most recent version of the iPhone developers agreement makes it clear in section 3.3.9 that “The use of third-party software in Your Application to collect and send Device Data to a third party for processing or analysis is expressly prohibited.” Several anonymous iPhone developers as well as at least one AdMob employee were said to have discussed the matter with the FTC, as was a wireless advertising executive who was approached by the FTC in its quest to learn about what implications, if any, section 3.3.9 will have on the wireless advertising industry. At this point in time there is no guarantee Apple will actually be rung up in an antitrust suit, but the fact alone that the government is keeping such close tabs is surely not a good sign for the Cupertino company. More →
The New York Post is reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission are, “locked in negotiations over which of the watchdogs will begin an antitrust inquiry into Apple’s new policy of requiring software developers who devise applications for devices such as the iPhone and iPad to use only Apple’s programming tools.” The Post, claiming to have “sources familiar with the matter,” goes on to say that the two government agencies, “are days away from making a decision about which agency will launch the inquiry.” The Post speculates that the inquiry is a byproduct of Apple’s hard-line on Flash, however, 9 to 5 Mac speculates (probably more accurately) that the inquiry is driven by Apple’s recent ban on third-party “rapid app development tools” and restrictions on “unauthorized programming code” as mandated by the iPhone Developer Program License Agreement. Whatever the reasoning, it looks like Apple’s General Counsel will continue to earn their keep. What do you think? Should Apple have the right to exert totalitarian control over their development ecosystem… or, should they play nice and let others join in the fun? More →
If you didn’t already think the people behind the RIAA and MPAA were insane, we’re positive that your opinion on them will change as soon as your read what the two associations have proposed in a recent letter to the Office of Intellectual Property Enforcement. Here are but some of the changes the two have asked for:
- The installation of spyware on computers which would seek out and automatically delete illegally obtained media
- Censorship of the internet which would block the transfer of illegal files
- Giving border guards the authority to search one’s tech gear for illegal files
- The lobbying of foreign governments to follow suit
- Having the Department of Justice and Department of Homeland Security actively and swiftly enforcing copyright laws
Scary as hell, right?