May 31, 2017

Time Warner CEO doesn't see Trump affecting AT&T deal

AP Photo/Lionel Cironneau

Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes says he doesn't know the exact timing of a decision by the DOJ about whether his company will be able to merge with telecom giant AT&T, but he doesn't think President Trump will be a "big factor" in the decision. "We'll see if this is right (but), we don't think merger or competitive analysis is particularly political," Bewkes said at the Code Conference in LA Wednesday. "The DOJ has a clear set of precedents ...I don't think who's occupying the White House really changes it."

Why it matters: Bewkes has been cautious about making predictions around the merger, although he is hopeful it will go through. His comments about the Trump Administration not influencing the decision are notable, however, because Trump's pick to lead anti-trust at the DOJ, Makan Delrahim, has an outwardly conservative view towards mergers and has said in the past that he doesn't see any problems with the merger. The Obama Administration, comparatively, was much more strict.

On net neutrality: On net neutrality, Bewkes almost sounded like he already worked for AT&T, suggesting rules should be the same for broadband carriers as they are for more lightly-regulated Internet companies like Google and Facebook. "I just think it should be even," he said. "There's no reason they should have more lax standards."

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