Donald Trump will soon become the 45th president of the United States after a victory in the 2016 election. While Trump has been vocal about many hot topics this political season, one recent one caught the eye of most investors. A proposed merger between Time Warner Inc. (NYSE:TWX) and AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) has become a major political point. The deal is also getting attention from Trump’s former opponent Hillary Clinton and former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders.
That said, don’t start fretting about TWX stock too quickly.
Donald Trump said during his presidential campaign that the merger between T and TWX would be “a deal we will not approve in my administration because it’s too much concentration of power in the hands of too few.”
Trump is breaking normal course for a Republican here by not supporting mergers. In the past, it has been the Democrats that are more hesitant to approve big deals that hurt competition.
Mounting Opposition to AT&T-Time Warner
Trump’s comments on the Time Warner deal and other mergers could be an example of his grudge of the unfair treatment he claims to have received during his campaign. Time Warner owns CNN, one of the most popular election news stations. Trump was vocal about the 2011 merger of Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and NBC Universal, saying he would look into breaking that already approved deal up.
“We’ll look at breaking that deal up, and other deals like that,” Trump said. “This should never, ever have been approved in the first place.”
Going after the Comcast deal may be Trump’s way of getting back at NBC. It was a leaked tape from Access Hollywood, owned by NBC, that showed harsh words on women by the newly elected President Donald Trump. Skits on Saturday Night Live, another NBC property, have also angered Trump for their portrayal of the president.
Trump’s rival Clinton was vocal about the proposed merger between T and TWX, but also seemed content with letting others make the decision. “I think it raises questions and concerns and they should be looked into,” Clinton said.
As far as the looking into, Clinton seemed less hands on and agreed that the Justice Department, FCC, and Congress could all decide the fate of the merger.
Bernie Sanders has been vocal calling for the justice Department to block the merger. He said recently the combination could be a “gross concentration of power.” By blocking the deal, the Justice Department would “preserve our democratic discourse and open competitive markets for speech and commerce.” Sanders has sent a letter to the antitrust division stating his opinions.
How Much Power Do Politicians Wield?
For those wondering if the T and TWX deal will go through, consider a couple of things.
The POTUS doesn’t have as much power to block a deal like this. Even with outspoken Donald Trump as the newly elected president, the merger will come down to whether the deal is fair and breaks any laws.
Time Warner and AT&T have continued to highlight the fact that this is an example of vertical consolidation and the two companies don’t currently compete. Had Time Warner still owned its Time Warner Cable Inc (NYSE:TWC) unit, the deal would have likely gotten a big fat no. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson has highlighted the fact that they are buying a supplier not a competitor.
Investors of Time Warner stock should also consider the breakup fees offered by AT&T if the deal falls through. There is currently only a $500 million breakup fee from AT&T to TWX. That is significantly less than the average or what AT&T has listed in recent history.
When AT&T tried to buy T-Mobile US Inc (NASDAQ:TMUS) in 2011 for $39 billion, it offered a $4 billion breakup fee, which is the largest term deal paid for a withdrawn deal. The $500 million breakup fee amounts to only 0.6% of the acquisition cost, which is significantly lower than the average of 4% on deals of more than $1 billion.
The low breakup fee could mean that AT&T doesn’t expect the deal to go through and is making sure it doesn’t have to payout a large amount of money for a failed deal. Both companies have said they are in for a lengthy battle and don’t expect the deal to close until the end of 2017.
Investors who believe the deal will go through should buy TWX stock, as there is a large gap between the offered buyout price ($107.50) and the current price of Time Warner shares.
While they are free to voice their opposition to the deal, politicians like Donald Trump will not have the ultimate say on whether the deal goes through.
As of this writing, Chris Katje did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.