AT&T, Deutsche Telekom win antitrust trial delay

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AT&T, Deutsche Telekom and US justice officials on Monday won court approval to delay an antitrust trial, giving the firms more time to consider whether they will pursue a T-Mobile takeover deal.

The case over the AT&T's proposed $39 billion takeover of the German firm's American unit, T-Mobile USA, was scheduled to go to trial in Washington on February 13.

In a filing Monday with a federal court in the nation's capital, the parties asked that all deadlines, including a hearing scheduled Thursday, be suspended.

The Justice Department and the companies requested a status conference to be held January 18, "to address the course of any further proceedings in this action."

The three companies proposed to the court filing a status report on January 12 on whether they intended to pursue the transaction.

The report would include "discussion of whether they intend to proceed with the transaction at issue in this litigation" and "whether they intend to proceed with another transaction," according to the request filed with the court.

US federal judge Ellen Huvelle granted all their requests.

AT&T has been scrambling to save its proposed acquisition of T-Mobile USA, which has run into trouble with US authorities.

The US Federal Communications Commission has voiced opposition to the deal, and the Justice Department filed a lawsuit to block it on August 31, saying it would harm competition.

AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint Nextel and Verizon Wireless provide more than 90 percent of the mobile wireless connections in the United States.

Verizon Wireless currently holds a 31 percent share of the US wireless subscriber market followed by AT&T with 27 percent, Sprint Nextel with 14 percent and T-Mobile with nine percent.

Moody's ratings agency has already indicated that a collapse of the sale could force Deutsche Telekom, which needs to cede the tiny struggling unit, to abandon the highly competitive US market.

© 2011 AFP

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