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AT&T has reportedly agreed to buy Time Warner for $80 billion, in a deal which could potentially be announced later on Saturday.
The information comes via a source for the New York Times, who didn't elaborate further. The Times commented, though, that even if the two companies announce an agreement this weekend or later, it could still be scuttled by U.S. regulators, given the size of the two corporations and an increasingly hegemonic media landscape.
AT&T alone controls a large portion of country's communications infrastructure, operating phone, internet, and TV businesses under its own name, as well as subsidiaries like Cricket and DirecTV. Time Warner — not to be confused with Time Warner Cable, now Spectrum — owns TV networks like HBO, CNN, TBS, and the Cartoon Network, plus studios like Warner Bros., which not only makes its own movies and TV shows but owns DC Comics.
While the U.S. government has sometimes blocked such large-scale mergers, it has also allowed others to go through. Most notably this includes Comcast's 2011 takeover of NBCUniversal, which likewise created a giant entity owning large swaths of culture and the infrastructure it's presented on.
Apple — once said to have raised the prospect of a Time Warner buyout in talks a few months ago — has allegedly been monitoring AT&T's moves, presumably because of how it might impact iTunes content and so-far stalled streaming TV plans.
Update: AT&T on Saturday announced the acquisition of Time Warner in a stock-and-cash transaction valued at $107.50 per share. The price implies an equity value of $85.4 billion and a total transaction value of $108.7 billion, including Time Warner's net debt, the company said.