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AT&T completes $85B acquisition of Time Warner

Two days after a federal judge found AT&T's proposed purchase of Time Warner does not violate antitrust laws, the telecom on Thursday finalized the $85 billion acquisition to create one of the largest media conglomerates in the world.

The deal affords AT&T full control over Time Warner's substantial media assets, including cable channels like CNN, TBS and HBO, and film studio Warner Bros. AT&T's gigantic merger was formally announced in a prepared statement in which chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson outlined the company's plans.

"The content and creative talent at Warner Bros., HBO and Turner are first-rate. Combine all that with AT&T's strengths in direct-to-consumer distribution, and we offer customers a differentiated, high-quality, mobile-first entertainment experience," Stephenson said. "We're going to bring a fresh approach to how the media and entertainment industry works for consumers, content creators, distributors and advertisers."

Earlier in the day, CNBC reported the Justice Department would not seek a stay of a judge's ruling that allowed the deal to move forward. U.S. District Judge Richard Leon, who presided over a DOJ antitrust case over the matter, on Tuesday found in favor of AT&T, clearing a path for the merger's completion.

Time Warner will be rolled into AT&T's media arm, which currently lacks a formal name. The newly augmented branch joins the company's communications, advertising and analytics, and international operations divisions.

Former Time Warner CEO Jeff Bewkes will remain with the company as a senior advisor during the transition period, after which his reports will answer to John Stankey, CEO of AT&T's media business.

AT&T completed the purchase with a stock issuance and $42.5 billion in cash, a move that ballooned its current outstanding debt load to $180.4 billion. With Time Warner now under its wing, however, the telecom hopes to synergize its communications and media businesses, while staving off advances from increasingly competitive streaming companies.

AT&T initially announced its intent to buy Time Warner in 2016 as it sought to diversify revenues and bolster a nascent streaming operation by bundling entertainment offerings with mobile services. The DOJ sued to block the merger in 2017 over concerns that the combined entity would pose a "major" threat to competitors.