AT&T, the Justice Department and T-Mobile USA owner Deutsche Telekom joined on Monday to formally ask for a stay in DOJ’s suit to block AT&T’s proposed takeover of the smaller carrier, and U.S. District Judge Ellen Huvelle has granted the request.
The process had been moving toward an antitrust trial in February on the proposed $39 billion merger. The stay also puts off a court date scheduled for this week.
AT&T and Deutsche Telekom will file a status report on Jan 12., "including discussion of whether they intend to proceed with the transaction at issue in the litigation, whether they intend to proceed with another transaction, the status of related proceedings with the Federal Communications Commission and their plans and timetable for seeking any necessary approval from the FCC," the joint filing said.
The filing also proposes that the pair meet in court Jan. 18 for another status conference with the judge.
The deal is more in question than ever as the company decides "whether" -- not how -- to modify the deal in the hopes of meeting approval from regulators, including the FCC, which took steps to block it last month.
AT&T said in a statement Monday: "We are actively considering whether and how to revise our current transaction to achieve the necessary regulatory approvals so that we can deliver the capacity enhancements and improved customer service that can only be derived from combining our two companies' wireless assets."
Justice Department lawyer Joseph Wayland said last week that he planned to file a stay or a withdrawal of the case until AT&T reapplied its merger application at the FCC. But it's a surprise that AT&T is asking for a timeout, as well.
The Justice Department filed to block the $39 billion merger in August, saying it would hurt competition and prices.