updated 06:10 pm EST, Fri November 25, 2011
ATT may have last-ditch T-Mobile merger concession
Coming with unusual timing, a claim late Friday had AT&T planning a last-ditch proposal to try and clear the T-Mobile merger. Under the proposal to the Department of Justice mentioned to Bloomberg, AT&T would divest as much as 40 percent of T-Mobile's assets. The figure would be the most AT&T could offer under the terms of the merger before it would have to pay the same fee it would if the merger was rejected outright.
The involved carriers and the DOJ didn't confirm or deny the rumor.
AT&T might not have much success even with the proposal. The FCC in calling for a hearing on the merger argued that the takeover wasn't in the public's interest and didn't consider divestitures of the network enough of a factor. In suing, the DOJ had already made clear that it didn't feel any amount of concessions would solve the conflicts.
The carrier has already planned to withdraw its application from the FCC and has promised to pay T-Mobile $4 billion in breakup fees and spectrum licensing deals. Common accounting rules in the US usually require such payouts if the buying company sees very little chance of a deal, giving little hope for the 40 percent deal even if true.