After Media Detour, AT&T Confronts Old Problems


“It would have been an amazing merger,” stated David Barden, a senior analysis analyst at Bank of America. “It would have kind of perpetuated the AT&T juggernaut of growth through acquisition — not through organic — but it failed.”

Mr. Stephenson then regarded to the enticing revenue margins present in media and leisure. In 2014, he introduced a deal for DirecTV, a transaction that he promised would “redefine the industry.”

But AT&T purchased into the pay-TV trade at its peak. Not lengthy after it acquired the satellite tv for pc service, shoppers left in droves.

“One thing they didn’t — they could not have anticipated, was that 2014 was the last year linear video would grow,” Mr. Barden, referring to the cable TV business. “Because who was out there in the wings? This little company called Netflix.” Customers started to chop their cords and cable subscriptions started their descent.

Then got here Time Warner. Numerous analysts identified that proudly owning a company that makes money by distributing reveals and movies as extensively as doable wouldn’t give AT&T any benefit. In different phrases, it will nonetheless must license HBO and CNN to rivals like Verizon’s tv service, or to cable giants like Comcast. AT&T would have a tough time justifying protecting the content material for itself.

The Justice Department sued AT&T to dam the deal, nevertheless it lost its case in courtroom.

Makan Delrahim, the previous Justice Department antitrust chief who oversaw the swimsuit, stated in an interview that AT&T’s rampant deal making was a “classic case” of company misbehaving. The company “did a series of mergers and acquisitions and really were not rational for their business execution,” he stated, “T-Mobile, DirecTV and Time Warner. And this is the result.”

Mr. Whitacre, the founding chief govt of the trendy AT&T, provided one other view.

“The deals we made while I was chairman — which was a long time — was acquiring the businesses that we were familiar with, the businesses we were in,” he stated in an interview. “And when I left, that changed.”

Mr. Whitacre, who continues to be an AT&T shareholder, stated he preferred the Discovery deal, getting the company again to “where we came from, if you would.”


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