Purchase of BellSouth Gets Justice Department Approval
The Wall Street Journal
Wednesday, October 11, 2006
The Department of Justice on Wednesday approved AT&T Inc.'s $67
billion purchase of BellSouth Corp. The decision leaves the
Federal Communications Commission as the final hurdle for a deal
to create the nation's largest provider of phone, wireless and
broadband Internet services.
"After thoroughly investigating AT&T's proposed acquisition of
BellSouth, the antitrust division determined that the proposed
transaction is not likely to reduce competition substantially,"
said Assistant Attorney General Thomas O. Barnett, who heads the
department's antitrust division.
The decision was immediately criticized by FCC member Jonathan
S. Adelstein, who called it "a reckless abandonment of [the
Justice Department's] responsibility to protection competition
The FCC is scheduled to vote on the matter Thursday, though
there has been speculation the agency may hold off because of
political pressures from Congress about the deal's possible
impact on market competition.
If the deal wins final government approval, the merger would
give San Antonio, Texas-based AT&T total control over the
nation's largest cellular provider, Cingular Wireless, a joint
venture of the two phone companies that serves 57.3 million
Though the FCC has the final say in approving the merger, the
Justice Department said it coordinated with the FCC throughout
The department's approval, given without conditions,
"underscores the competitive nature of our industry and the
pro-competitive benefits of this merger," AT&T General Counsel
James D. Ellis said in a prepared statement.