Telecom giant AT&T has agreed to pay USD 85 billion to buy media powerhouse Time Warner and create one of the world’s largest media, TV and telecom firms. The boards of the two companies unanimously approved the deal on Saturday, reports the Guardian. AT&T will pay USD 107.50 per Time Warner share in a combination of cash and stock worth USD 85.4 billion overall.
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The deal, which combines America’s second-largest wireless telecom company with the owner of HBO, CNN, Cartoon Network and the Warner Brothers movies, is likely to face tough regulatory scrutiny over fears that it could lead to less consumers’ choice and higher prices.
If approved, the deal would be the biggest in the world this year.
Reacting to the deal, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump said that he would block the deal, adding AT&T’s purchase of Time Warner would give the combined group “too much concentration of power” and would “destroy democracy”.
Trump said that he would also consider “breaking” up the last big media deal, Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal in 2013. “Deals like this destroy democracy,” he said.
The telecom companies are increasingly seeking to buy into cable TV providers and content producers in order to offer more extensive packages to the consumers.
AT&T spent USD 48 billion buying the satellite TV provider DirecTV last year, making it the country’s largest pay-TV provider with 25 million customers.
The company has also spent hundreds of millions on improving its infrastructure to give the consumers a better experience watching video content on their mobile phones.
Buying Time Warner would give AT&T, which has a market value of USD 226 billion, access to the Harry Potter and Batman film franchises as well as hit TV shows such as The Big Bang Theory and Game of Thrones.
The rival telecoms company Verizon is in negotiations to buy Yahoo and has already bought AOL, owner of the Huffington Post.