During the election Donald “Prince of Orange” Trump threatened to block the deal, even though Republicans would traditionally allow corp orates to do what they liked. It is not clear if the US comedy candidate will follow through on that stance now he actually is in the White House, but there are some fears he might.
Wall Street braced for a drop in deals, with Goldman Sachs on Wednesday projecting a 20 to 30 percent downside for earnings of banks that focus on merger and acquisition advice, and Jefferies saying that uncertainty about Trump’s policy on trade, healthcare, taxes and energy could hamper underwriting activity and M&A globally.
Trump said in October that AT&T’s proposed $85 billion acquisition of the owner of HBO, CNN and the Warner Bros film studio was an example of a “power structure” rigged against him and voters, and that he would block a deal.
Still, some investors believed the man who considers himself business friendly would take a more moderate tone than in the campaign once he assumes office, as he did on Tuesday night in his acceptance speech..
The president does not directly decide if a merger is illegal under antitrust law and the job is done by the US Justice Department or Federal Trade Commission, which divide up the work of assessing mergers. If one of the agencies decides to stop a deal, it must convince a judge to agree.
AT&T Chief Financial Officer John Stephens on Wednesday said his company was looking forward to working with Trump and “optimistic” regulators would approve the deal.
Trump’s policies and discussions “about infrastructure investment, economic development, and American innovation all fit right in with AT&T’s goals,” Stephens said at the Wells Fargo technology, media and telecoms conference in New York.
Trump’s protectionist stance also raises the risk that some foreign corporations, including from China, may face higher hurdles in trying to take over American companies, dealmakers said.