Spencer Pratt/Getty Images; David Buchan/Getty Images; Samantha Lee/Business Insider
- AT&T's $85.4 billion bid for Time Warner Cable was approved by a federal judge on Tuesday.
- Shares of the telecom giant sank about 2.3% initially following the decision, while Time Warner spiked as much as 4%.
- The so-called "vertical merger" would give AT&T the ability to distribute more Time Warner content including HBO and CNN.
- Follow AT&T's stock price in real-time here — and follow Time Warner here.
Shares of AT&T sank about more than 4.8% in overnight trading into Wednesday morning following a judge's ruling that the telecom giant could proceed with its $85.4 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable after twenty months of of uncertainty.
Time Warner were up about 3.6% in early trading Wednesday following the news.
The deal is widely considered to be a harbinger of future media mergers that could radically shift how Americans consume television and movies going forward. Most notably, Disney's ongoing offer to buy 21st Century Fox for $52.4 billion, which Comcast is expected to compete against.
The Department of Justice, as well as President Donald Trump, had originally opposed the merger. The deal could "greatly harm American consumers" through "higher monthly bills and fewer of the new, emerging innovative options that consumers are beginning to enjoy," Makan Delrahim, head of the Justice Department's antitrust division, said when announcing the suit last year.
AT&T rebuffed those claims made by the Justice Department and Trump, saying similar mergers are "routinely approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitor from the market."
The merger is considered "vertical" because it would combine Time Warner, which makes programming, with AT&T, a distributor of that content, which would then have access to more Time Warner brands like HBO, TNT, TBS, and CNN.
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