Delrahim: T-Mobile/Sprint Ruling Will Make It Harder For States To Challenge Mergers

The court ruling in favor of the T-Mobile/Sprint merger last week sets a high bar for state challenges and prevents highly decentralized antitrust enforcement, said Makan Delrahim, assistant attorney general of the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Antitrust Division, reported CNBC.

“Had that gone the other way, you would have had 53 antitrust agencies,” Delrahim said in an interview Wednesday on CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” adding that it would have allowed every state to have “whacks of the pinata.”

Attorneys general from 13 states and the District of Columbia sued to block the US$26 billion telecom merger after the DOJ and Federal Communications Commission cleared the deal with certain remedies. The states argued that combining the No. 3 and No. 4 US carriers would result in higher prices for consumers due to limited competition. The companies countered that the merger would enable them to effectively compete against top players AT&Tand Verizon.

In his decision, Judge Victor Marrero wrote, “The resulting stalemate leaves the Court lacking sufficiently impartial and objective ground on which to rely in basing a sound forecast of the likely competitive effects of a merger.”

The ruling could open the door for future mergers in the industry and has also raised fears of a chilling effect on state actions. New York Attorney General Letitia James, who helped lead the states’ effort, said Sunday, February 16, that she would not move forward with an appeal.

Full Content: CNBC

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