"Mr. Stephenson had a very good meeting with President-Elect Trump earlier today covering a wide-range of topics", AT&T said in a statement. Reuters cites sources familiar in reporting that the meetup was in fact about the $85.4bn merger with Time Warner that AT&T announced previous year. Fritzsche noted Trump's opinion - whatever way it leans - will likely have little impact on the Justice Department's decision, but observed that fact doesn't mean the administration won't try to wield some influence.
It could also face a review by the Federal Communications Commission, although the companies are considering ways to structure the deal to avoid that.
Top AT&T executives breezed into Trump Tower on Thursday morning without explanation, which left reporters wondering about the reason why they were there.
As reported by Bloomberg, Stephenson arrived at 9:20 a.m. EST with Robert Quinn, AT&T's senior executive vice president for external and legislative affairs.
Trump has opposed the proposed $85.4 billion takeover bid, saying, "It's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few".
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"They're trying desperately to suppress my vote and the voice of the American people", he said October 22 during a speech in Gettysburg, Pa. Trump has been particularly critical of news coverage by CNN, which is owned by Time Warner. He had a confrontation with CNN reporter Jim Acosta at a Wednesday news conference and blasted the network again Thursday via Twitter. CNN has its own viewership constituency and may actually benefit.
Meanwhile, Trump showed no signs of backing down from his feud with CNN over "fake news".
Some investors have been wondering if Trump's dislike of CNN could affect the AT&T deal review.
"I don't know that this one meeting suddenly suggests that Trump is going to be intimately involved in every transaction", Murino said. "You have to get an attorney general at the Justice Department to file a lawsuit and then you have to convince a judge that, according to antitrust law, this deal should be stopped".