President-elect Donald Trump will reportedly meet with executives from AT&T to discuss the carrier’s pending $85.4 billion acquisition of Time Warner.
According to a report from Bloomberg’s Kevin Cirilli, the meeting will be held at Trump Tower in New York City, with AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson in attendance.
The meeting is notable because it comes in the wake of recent reports that Trump, who vocally opposed the merger on the campaign trail, was still against the idea as recently as last week.
Should the meeting come to pass as promised, Stephenson won’t be the only wireless CEO to have spoken with Trump.
Sprint’s Marcelo Claure recently jumped on a call with Trump ahead of that carrier’s announcement it would bring back or create 5,000 U.S. jobs as part of SoftBank’s push to invest $50 billion and create 50,000 jobs stateside.
When Cirilli posted the AT&T/Trump meeting news on Twitter, one user suggested Trump would be more disposed to support the deal if AT&T similarly promised the merger would add jobs.
Though the president isn’t directly part of the process when it comes to reviewing deals – that job instead falls under the purview of the Department of Justice and Federal Trade Commission, with input from the Federal Communications Commission – MoffettNathanson Analyst Craig Moffett previously told Bloomberg it’s possible for him to “turn up the heat” in an attempt to influence the decision.
In particular, Moffett noted the President would have the most influence over the FCC. AT&T, though, could dodge that bullet given it recently said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission it believes the FCC won’t need to analyze the deal because no licenses under the commission’s jurisdiction will be transferred from Time Warner to the carrier.
AT&T definitely won’t be able to escape the scrutiny of Senator Jeff Sessions, Trump’s pick for attorney general, who will be head of the Department of Justice. While Bloomberg noted a spokesman for Sessions said the senator hadn’t discussed the AT&T merger with Trump, Sessions at his confirmation hearing said he would have “no hesitation to say certain mergers should not occur.”
Still, analysts including Recon Analytics’ Roger Entner and Wells Fargo’s Jennifer Fritzsche said there would be a “tough fight” ahead for approval, but observed the DOJ has “never stopped a vertical merger in the telecom/media space.”
Update 3 p.m. Jan. 12: In a statement provided to CNBC’s Steve Kopack, AT&T said CEO Randall Stephenson did not discuss the Time Warner deal in his Thursday meeting with Trump. They did, however, discuss jobs.