AT&T says Time Warner deal is down to U.S., Brazil regulatory approval

AT&T's John Stankey speaks at the launch announcement of DirecTV Now on Nov. 28, 2016. Image: AT&T / YouTube
John Stankey is running the AT&T-Time Warner integration planning process.

AT&T and Time Warner have accumulated just about all the regulatory approvals needed to push through their proposed $85 billion merger.

John Stankey, senior executive vice president of AT&T/Time Warner Merger Integration Planning, said that the companies are down to Brazil and the U.S. as the approvals needed to finalize the deal.

“We don’t see anything that’s troublesome or problematic,” Stankey said, adding that AT&T is still anticipating the deal will close by the end of the year but if it closes sooner, the companies are ready to go. “We’re going to come out hot and hard.”

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This week, AT&T announced that The Chilean Fiscalía Nacional Económica (FNE) had OK’d its deal to acquire Time Warner with conditions.

AT&T said that Chile is requiring “targeted behavioral conditions to address specific competition issues” as part of the FNE’s approval of the transaction. However, the FNE’s approval won’t require AT&T or Time Warner to sell or divest any assets.

With Chile's approval, AT&T and Time Warner said they have received merger approval from 17 competition authorities outside the United States.

Stankey is currently running merger integration and working with Time Warner Inc. Chairman and CEO Jeff Bewkes. Should the deal be finalized, Stankey will take over as CEO of AT&T's media company, running Time Warner after previously serving as CEO of AT&T Entertainment Group.

Stankey will still report to Randall Stephenson, who will remain AT&T chairman and CEO.

Although the deal has run into friction from public interest groups and lawmakers, reports have suggested that the approval process is in the final stages at the U.S. Justice Department.

According to Bloomberg, before the deal is given the U.S. government’s go-ahead, AT&T is being asked to make vows of good behavior, including not granting unfair preference for its own programming. If the deal is approved, AT&T will own Warner Bros. Pictures, HBO and Turner networks including CNN, TBS and TNT.