Friday, November 17, 2006

DOJ Defends AT&T Decision


The Justice Department's top antitrust official on Thursday defended the agency's unconditional approval of AT&T's $82 billion buyout of BellSouth Corp. as "pretty straightforward" despite criticism from Democratic regulators and lawmakers.

The buyout would further reunite parts of the old Ma Bell phone monopoly, broken up by the government in 1984, and create the largest U.S. provider of telephone, wireless and broadband Internet services.

"We're living a very different world than we were in the 1980s," Assistant Attorney General Thomas O. Barnett said in an interview during an antitrust conference. "The mere size of a company in general doesn't tell you whether a merger is going to harm consumer welfare."