Monday, January 23, 2017

AT&T CEO: CNN Primed For Expansion

Randall Stephenson
AT&T Inc. Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said CNN is ripe for expansion into social media and mobile, and he wouldn’t consider a divestiture to win approval of his company’s $85.4 billion merger with Time Warner Inc. despite President-Elect Donald Trump’s problems with the news network.

Trump has said he opposes the deal, and it’s unclear how much of his motivation stems from his animosity for Time Warner-controlled CNN. But Stephenson said the news network is “a great business” and one of the key brands that can help AT&T transition to a media powerhouse, seeking to produce some of the world’s most popular shows and movies.

“CNN is unique,” Stephenson said in an interview last Wednesday with Bloomberg Television at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. “They have a lot of content with Time Warner that we think can be innovated and be used to change the business model in the media entertainment business. That’s what this deal is all about.”

Stephenson, along with Bob Quinn, AT&T’s head of external and legislative affairs, met with Trump for about 40 minutes recently in New York. The discussion with Trump was about increasing investment and jobs and his proposals on tax reform, not about the Time Warner deal, which is being assessed by the Department of Justice, Stephenson said.

Investors remain skeptical that the deal will clear regulatory hurdles.

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