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AT&T Chief Executive, Trump Meet Amid Planned Time Warner Merger

By   /  January 12, 2017  /  No Comments

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By Laila Kearney and David Shepardson | NEW YORK

AT&T (T.N) Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson had an hour-long meeting in New York on Thursday with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump, who has opposed the company’s planned acquisition of Time Warner Inc (TWX.N).

A spokeswoman for Trump confirmed the meeting after Stephenson was seen entering Trump Tower. A person briefed on the matter said Stephenson was meeting with the Trump transition team to discuss the $85.4 billion Time Warner deal.

Stephenson, who was accompanied by Robert Quinn, AT&T’s senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs, would not answer questions from reporters. An AT&T spokesman declined to comment.

Shares of AT&T and Time Warner were both trading up less than 1 percent in midmorning trading on New York Stock Exchange.

During his campaign for the White House, Trump said AT&T’s proposal to buy the owner of the CNN news network and the Warner Bros movie studio was an example of a “power structure” that was rigged against him and voters.

“It’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few,” said Trump, who repeatedly accused the media of being biased against him and his campaign.

Since the election, Trump has not commented publicly on the AT&T-Time Warner deal, but he has sparred with CNN. As Thursday’s meeting was about to get under way, Trump tweeted: “@CNN is in a total meltdown with their FAKE NEWS because their ratings are tanking since election and their credibility will soon be gone.”

An AT&T spokesman declined to comment on the tweet from Trump. A Time Warner spokesman did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

A Trump transition official told Reuters earlier this month that the president-elect was still against the deal, which would require antitrust approval from the U.S. Department of Justice.

It could also face a review by the Federal Communications Commission, although the companies are considering ways to structure the deal to avoid that.

Time Warner shareholders will meet on Feb. 15 to decide whether to approve the merger.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney, David Shepardson, Diane Bartz and Anjali Athavaley; Editing by Susan Heavey and Lisa Von Ahn)

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