Early greetings from New York City, where I'm heading over to the DealBook conference to watch the first public interview with new Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi. Plus a particularly timely one with AT&T boss Randall Stephenson. Full coverage over at http://axios.com. Okay, here we go...f
The U.S. Department of Justice has told AT&T (NYSE: T) that it may be required to sell either Turner (parent company of CNN) or DirecTV as a condition of approval for its proposed $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner (NYSE: TWX), per sources and other reports. AT&T said in a statement that it has neither offered to sell CNN, nor would it.
- Why it's the BFD: Because this would mark a major philosophical – and possibly legal – shift for federal antitrust regulators, who historically have allowed vertical mergers so long as the buyer agrees to certain operating conditions. DoJ's possible argument is that AT&T can have either the hammer (video streaming via DirectTV) or the nail (content via CNN, etc), but the combination is just too powerful. More on that from Axios' David McCabe.
- Camera ready: I discussed the merger earlier this morning on CNBC. Video here.
- Bottom line: The leaks suggest that the regulatory process is heading for a final turn, and that participants are seeking some public leverage. Already, some on the left have found themselves in the unexpected position of defending this massive media consolidation play, under a thesis that DoJ is reflecting the wishes of President Trump, who opposed this deal on the campaign trail and who has been a vocal critic of CNN.
Private Equity Deals
• Thoma Bravo has agreed to acquire ABC Financial Services, a Little Rock, Ark.-based provider of payment processing software for health clubs. www.abcfinancial.com
⛽ Ridgemont Equity Partners has raised $320 million for an energy-focused private equity fund. www.ridgemontep.com
• Mike Glenn, former president and CEO of FedEx Corporate Services, has been named an operating consultant and senior advisor to Oak Hill Capital Partners. www.oakhillcapital.com