Merger Gets Blocked
WASHINGTON (AP) The Obama administration has explained its effort to block AT&T's purchase of T-Mobile USA by saying it will fight mergers that would reduce competition and hurt consumers.
Yet few think the lawsuit the administration filed Wednesday signals a more aggressive stance toward acquisitions in other industries. Rather, experts say, the administration's challenge of AT&T's purchase comes down to this: Telecom is dominated by just a few big companies. Reducing the number of major players could all but kill competition and drive prices up.
By contrast, few other major industries are controlled by just a handful of giants. And none relies on access to a limited number of public airwaves.
With previous big mergers, the administration has taken a middle-ground approach to antitrust: It's green-lighted deals such as cable company Comcast's acquisition of media giant NBC Universal and Ticketmaster's merger with concert promoter Live Nation. But it also imposed conditions in those deals that are intended to preserve competition.
"They're looking even at very big mergers on their merits, and if the merging parties can't satisfy their concerns, the Justice Department will say, `We can't let this go through,"' said Melissa Maxman, an antitrust attorney with the law firm Cozen O'Connor