Time Warner shareholders have overwhelmingly voted to approve the media conglomerate’s upcoming sale to AT&T. The companies still must earn government approval for the $85.4 billion sale, but they have publicly said that they expect that the deal will close by the end of 2017.
Time Warner said Wednesday that 78% of the outstanding shares of common stock favored the pact — 99% of which were cast approved of the proposal.
In a statement, Time Warner chairman-CEO Jeff Bewkes said the combined companies will be stronger together, with AT&T’s vast distribution network of cellphone and mobile devices benefiting from Time Warner’s movies and TV shows.
“In addition to providing shareholders with immediate value and the ability to participate in the upside of the combined company, the deal advances our long-term operational strategy,” said Bewkes. “By combining Time Warner’s leading brands and video content with AT&T’s distribution, we will accelerate our ability to innovate, develop and deliver the next generation of video services, making our content even more valuable to consumers and business partners.”
On the campaign trail, President Trump slammed the deal, saying he opposed it out of concern that it would concentrate too much power into one entity. He has been silent on the merger since assuming office although he and his administration have had a running feud with Time Warner’s CNN. It will fall to the Justice Department to decide whether the deal is permissible on anti-trust grounds and if any conditions should be imposed on AT&T as a condition of securing federal approval.