Appeals court upholds decision allowing AT&T to buy Time Warner

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Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, speaking at the Business Roundtable CEO Innovation Summit in Washington, DC. on Dec. 6th, 2018.  

Janhvi Bhojwani | CNBC

Randall Stephenson, CEO of AT&T, speaking at the Business Roundtable CEO Innovation Summit in Washington, DC. on Dec. 6th, 2018.  

A federal appeals judge ruled Tuesday AT&T’s merger with Time Warner can stand.

The ruling seemingly puts an end to a years-long merger process that pitted AT&T against U.S. antitrust regulators. Shares of AT&T popped immediately following the news to trade roughly half of 1 percent higher.

In June, U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon ruled the $85.4 billion bid was legal, and imposed no conditions on the merger. The Department of Justice maintained the merger would reduce competition in the pay-TV industry, citing concerns that AT&T, owner of satellite television provider DirecTV, could charge rival distributors more for Time Warner content and spur higher prices for consumers.

The agency appealed the ruling in July, after AT&T formally closed the deal.

The case holds wide-ranging impact on the type of vertical integrations that have become common among tech and telecom companies, and has taken on a political bent with regard to the Trump administration.

President Donald Trump is an outspoken critic of CNN, a Time Warner asset that came under AT&T’s jurisdiction with the closing of the merger.

Here’s the ruling:

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