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AT&T purchase of Time Warner could be announced this weekend - report

While AT&T and Time Warner were said to have previously held informal talks about a potential takeover, those discussions have apparently since turned serious, with a deal said to be now nearing completion.




Citing people familiar with the discussions, The Wall Street Journal reported on Friday that an AT&T acquisition of Time Warner could be announced as soon as this weekend. AT&T is looking to merge its wireless, broadband and satellite TV businesses with Time Warner's massive content empire, including the likes of HBO, TNT, and CNN.

Such a deal is likely to face antitrust scrutiny from the U.S. government, in much the same way that the Department of Justice looked closely and placed restrictions on Comcast's takeover of NBC, approved nearly six years ago.

AT&T attempted to purchase rival carrier T-Mobile in 2011, but that proposed deal was ultimately shot down. The wireless provider has since moved its attention to media and distribution, inking a $50 billion deal to purchase satellite provider DirecTV last year.

AT&T currently has a market cap north of $227 billion, while Time Warner is valued at around $73 billion as of trading on Friday.




An earlier report on Thursday revealed that AT&T had held informal talks with Time Warner after last year's DirecTV acquisition. But while those talks were characterized as at an early stage, the latest round of discussions are said to be more serious.

Sources who spoke with the Journal said that the possible cash-and-stock deal has come together quickly so far, but the fluid discussions could fall through or be delayed.

On the block, if AT&T can raise the capital, is a valuable lineup from premium cable channels marketed by HBO, basic cable asset including Cartoon Network and lucrative sports licenses like NBA basketball. Access to popular content is vital for AT&T as the company prepares to launch an over-the-top streaming app under its DirecTV subsidiary.