Staff attorneys at the Justice Department’s antitrust division are nearing a recommendation to block Comcast’s bid to buy Time Warner Cable, sources told Bloomberg News.
Attorneys who are investigating Comcast’s $45.2 billion proposal to create a nationwide cable giant are leaning against the merger out of concerns that consumers would be harmed, the sources said. They could submit their review as soon as next week.
The antitrust lawyers will present their findings to Renata Hesse, a deputy assistant attorney general for antitrust, who will decide, along with the division’s top officials, whether to file a federal lawsuit to block the deal.
The Justice Department lawyers have been contacting outside parties in the last few weeks to shore up evidence to support a potential case against the merger, one of the people said.
Furthermore, officials at the antitrust division and the Federal Communications Commission, which is also reviewing the deal, aren’t negotiating with Comcast about conditions to the merger that would resolve concerns, such as selling parts of its business or changing practices, said two people familiar with the situation.
The staff recommendation isn’t yet complete and company executives remain confident.
“There is no basis for a lawsuit to block the transaction,” said Sena Fitzmaurice, a Comcast spokeswoman. The merger “will result in significant consumer benefits — faster broadband speeds, access to a superior video experience and more competition in business services resulting in billions of dollars of cost savings.”
Time Warner Cable spokesman Bobby Amirshahi said, “We have been working productively with both DOJ and FCC and believe that there is no basis for DOJ to block the deal.”
Comcast has been seeking approval for the merger from the Justice Department and the FCC since it was announced last year. Comcast could still fight any lawsuit in court or try to reach a settlement that would let the deal go ahead.
Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, declined to comment.