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Posted at 11:00 AM ET, 09/02/2011

AT&T prepares settlement, court fight in bid for T-Mobile

Pedestrians pass by an AT&T Inc. store in New York on Wednesday. (STEPHEN YANG/BLOOMBERG)
AT&T plans to present a settlement proposal with the Justice Department soon on its proposed $39 billion merger with T-Mobile, according to a source familiar with the company’s thinking.

The company will do so as it also prepares to defend the merger in federal court, the source said. Telecommunications giant AT&T sees its future in wireless services and is determined to complete the acquisition. It faces a $6 billion cash and assets penalty it will have to pay T-Mobile if the deal doesn’t go through.

As of Friday morning, the company had not scheduled a meeting with Justice officials, who filed suit last Wednesday to block the deal. The country’s second-largest wireless provider intends to ask Justice for a meeting to hash out concessions that could placate the federal agency’s objection to the mega wireless merger. The company was willing to find a middle ground that could include divestitures or other promises by AT&T to merge with the nation’s fourth-largest wireless carrier, the source said.

Acting U.S. assistant attorney general Sharis A. Pozen’s comments this week that there was an “open door” for negotiation provided some hope that the deal could be salvaged instead of trying the case in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Reuters has a story Friday that quotes two sources saying AT&T may have to sell up to 25 percent of T-Mobile's business, including airwaves and customers, in a settlement.

The company also hasn’t filed for an expedited hearing, which it will do as it also pursues a potential settlement, the source said.


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