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FTC Asks TW-Turner For More Info

Federal Trade Commission attorneys who are scouring the proposed Time Warner-Turner Broadcasting System merger for possible antitrust violations asked the companies last week to supply more documents related to the deal.

Sources said the Nov. 9 request came in the form of what is called a “second request for information.” Such a request is generally pro forma when related to mergers the scope of the $7.5 billion TW-Turner marriage.

Also asked to submit more info was Tele-Communications Inc., the cable giant that currently owns 21% of Turner. Terms of the merger call for TCI’s stake in the merged company to drop to 9%, and TW chairman Gerald Levin would be granted the power to vote TCI’s stock through the creation of a voting trust.

Time Warner attorney Robert Joffe said the FTC’s second request for information was expected. Beltway antitrust experts doubt the government will block the merger outright, although there is considerable speculation the FTC will force revisions in the proposed deal.

Two of the country’s largest cable companies – Comcast and Continental – have been ardent critics of the TW-Turner deal, and were recently subpoenaed to testify against the merger.

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