AT&T, U.S. Ordered to Discuss Settlement Prospects at Sept. 21 Hearing
By Sara Forden – Sep 7, 2011 12:01 AM ET
AT&T Inc. (T) and the Justice Department must come to court Sept. 21 ready to discuss “the prospects for settlement” of the government’s antitrust lawsuit seeking to block the company from buying T-Mobile USA Inc., a judge said.
U.S. District Judge Ellen S. Huvelle in Washington issued the order yesterday after a telephone conference with the parties in the case, according to the court docket. Huvelle told the company and the Justice Department to file by Sept. 16 a joint proposal for scheduling the litigation that would “facilitate the just, speedy and inexpensive” management of the case.
“I read this to mean that the judge wants them to state succinctly what the areas of disagreement are and determine whether she can facilitate a settlement,” said Melissa Maxman, the Washington-based co-chair of the antitrust practice group at Cozen O’Connor. “If not, then she will set a schedule for proceeding with litigation. It will make things clearer.”
The Justice Department sued Dallas-based AT&T on Aug. 31 to stop its $39 billion acquisition of Deutsche Telekom AG (DTE)’s T- Mobile unit. The government said the combination of the two companies, which would make AT&T the biggest U.S. wireless carrier, would “substantially” reduce competition.
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