A federal judge approved AT&T’s $85 billion deal to take over Time Warner, without any conditions, a move that should clear the way for a slew of mergers and acquisitions. Telecom, cable and tech companies have been chomping at the bit to buy content companies to gain scale and better compete with the likes of Netflix.
First to bat is likely to be Comcast, which has said it will make an all-cash offer to outbid Disney’s $52.4 billion deal for the majority of 21st Century’s assets.
While the U.S. Department of Justice is likely to appeal the ruling, the judge’s decision to not impose conditions on the deal suggests that an appeal will be difficult. Many observers had expected that the judge would allow the deal to proceed provided that AT&T made concessions that protected competitors. Time Warner’s shares rose almost 5% in after hours trading, while AT&T’s shares were slightly higher. Meanwhile, Netflix’s shares slid almost 5% as the market anticipated increased competition.