Let’s play a game: Pretend you’re AT&T. Your subscribers think you’re the pits and everybody’s making it next-to-impossible for you to acquire your competitor, T-Mobile. In short, it doesn’t seem like anybody really likes you these days. What can you do? At best, just cross your fingers and hope it doesn’t get any worse from here.
But then reality settles back into its worn recliner, kicks up its feet and tells you, “Not so fast, AT&T. I’m not done with you yet.”
That’s essentially what happened today as the U.S. Department of Justice has asked to delay or dismiss its lawsuit against AT&T, which was originally scheduled to begin in February. The DoJ cites AT&T’s decision last month to withdraw its application from the FCC as the reason for filing the request to postpone the trial. Joseph Wayland, the lead litigator for the Justice Department’s case, said that there was no longer any reason for the DoJ to pursue the case after AT&T withdrew its application because the merger isn’t a “real transaction until they file with the FCC.”
So really, the DoJ is treating the AT&T/T-Mobile merger as a make-believe merger.
Trying to sustain the appearance that AT&T is still seriously pursuing the merger, Mark Hensen, an attorney for AT&T, reassured the trial judge that the deal to acquire T-Mobile was still the same in spite of reports that his client could renegotiate the acquisition to make it more agreeable to regulators.
Really, what cards could AT&T possibly have up their sleeve at this point. Going the Defiant Teenager route didn’t really do them any good, so now will they simply accept the fact that this deal is pushing daisies? Or maybe AT&T is holding out for the miracle of Christmas where, in addition to being allowed to gobble up T-Mobile, the lame will walk and the blind will see again.