AT&T is in the midst of seeking approval from the Justice Department for its acquisition of Time Warner. Trump said during the campaign that he would block the deal, but since the election, Wall Street analysts have predicted that with the Republican majority in Washington, the deal would be looked upon more favorably.
Also spotted in the lobby was Robert Quinn, the company’s senior executive vice president of external and legislative affairs, a key position as regulators review the merger.
Their arrival came just after Trump tweeted out more disdain at CNN, a unit of Time Warner. “CNN is in total meltdown with their FAKE NEWS because their ratings are tanking since election and their credibility will soon be gone!”
Several outlets reported last week that Trump has told associates that he remains opposed to the transaction. In October, during a campaign rally, he said that he would block the deal because of concerns of the concentration of media. AT&T and Time Warner have defended the transaction as a vertical merger that will not remove competition.
In December, Stephenson suggested that Trump’s opposition may have come from his unhappiness with CNN.
“Anytime the president of the United States comes out and says they’re not in favor of what you’re trying to do, you have to pay attention,” he said at a conference. “But I don’t know what part of the deal he’s referring to. I’ve heard rumors he’s not happy with CNN, so that might have come into it.”
Some analysts have wondered if AT&T would look to spin off CNN if that made it easier to get the deal approved.
Update: According to an AT&T spokesman, the merger was not discussed.
Their statement: “Mr. Stephenson had a very good meeting with President-Elect Trump earlier today covering a wide-range of topics. AT&T’s proposed merger with Time Warner was not a topic of discussion. Rather, as the country’s leading investor of capital for each of the last five years, the conversation focused on how AT&T can work with the Trump administration to increase investment in the U.S., stimulate job creation in America, and make American companies more competitive globally.”