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Trump Uses Activist Investor's Move On AT&T To Renew Criticism Of CNN

Dave Royse

President Donald Trump on Monday praised an activist investor’s move to take a stake in AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) and used the fund’s criticism of its acquisitions strategy to reiterate his own animosity toward news network CNN, which is owned by AT&T’s WarnerMedia, formerly Time Warner.

Elliott Management Corp. announced a .2 billion stake in AT&T, and issued a letter criticizing the company and outlining changes it would like to see made at the communications conglomerate, while questioning its acquisitions, including that of Time Warner.

Trump tweeted it was “great news” that an activist investor was now involved with the parent company of “VERY LOW RATINGS” CNN.

The Elliott Management letter made no mention of CNN specifically, and called Time Warner a “spectacular company, representing a collection of some of the world’s premier media assets, (that) remains a strong and valuable franchise today.”

But the hedge fund said it's cautious on the benefits of the combination, saying AT&T is “yet to articulate a clear strategic rationale” for why it needs to own the Warner property.

AT&T said its management and board would review Elliott management’s perspective and looked forward to working with the firm, but defended its “unique portfolio of valuable businesses” across communications, media and entertainment.

“We believe growing and investing in these businesses is the best path forward for our company and our shareholders,” the AT&T statement said.

Trump’s criticism of CNN is the latest in a years-long feud with the network, which he often calls “fake news.”

Elliott Management questioned AT&T’s overall M&A strategy and said it should consider divesting non-core assets, though with no specific mention of the cable news channel.

AT&T's stock traded higher by 4.7% to $37.98 per share at time of publication.

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