AT&T gearing up for rare antitrust fight with DOJ
Besides being forced to divulge potentially damaging information, AT&T will face other risks if it doesn’t settle with the Justice Department. Going to trial will take months, or even years, leaving the company in a legal limbo that could depress its stock price and cause customers and key employees to defect.
There’s another risk to going to trial: as they try to prove their case, antitrust lawyers sometimes obtain confidential e-mails that contain embarrassing snippets and present other evidence that can make companies look bad.
Those are some of the reasons why AT&T mayl try to reach some kind of settlement with the government.
If AT&T persists, antitrust experts said that it’s better off going up against the Justice Department than the Federal Trade Commission, which also handles antitrust reviews. That’s mainly because lawsuits with the Justice Department are contested in federal courts. By contrast, the threshold for the FTC to block deals is generally lower, and the ensuing legal skirmishes occur in administrative law proceedings that drag on longer.
“The merging parties usually have a better shot when they are going up against the DOJ than the FTC,” said D. Daniel Sokol, a University of Florida professor specializing in antitrust law.