Shares in media company Time Warner fell 5% on Thursday following leaks that the US government may block AT&T’s proposed takeover or impose tough conditions.
A story published by Dow Jones said the US Justice Department (DoJ) and AT&T were “discussing possible settlement terms that would lead to the deal winning government approval with conditions attached”.
AT&T made its move on Time Warner – whose empire includes CNN, Warner Bros and HBO – just over a year ago.
According to the Dow Jones report, the DoJ is “actively considering” an antitrust lawsuit, but said no decision had been made.
Reuters said a source had confirmed that AT&T Inc and the U.S. Department of Justice were discussing conditions for its acquisition of Time Warner to win government approval.
The $85.4bn deal, hatched last October, is opposed by some consumer groups and TV companies on the grounds that it would give the wireless company too much power over the media it would carry on its own network.
Opposed by Trump
Donald Trump, who has accused media companies like Time Warner’s CNN of being unfair to him, criticised the deal on the campaign trail last year and vowed that as president his Justice Department would block it.
The proposed deal represents an early challenge for the Justice Department’s new antitrust chief, Makan Delrahim, a Trump appointee who was confirmed by Congress in late September.
Delrahim said at his confirmation hearing in May that he would decline to discuss antitrust matters with the White House.