U.S. District Court Judge Richard Leon on Tuesday denied a Justice Department antitrust challenge to the AT&T-Time Warner deal, concluding the government failed to meet its burden to establish that the deal was likely to lessen competition substantially.
Shares of Time Warner were higher Wednesday after Leon cleared the way with no conditions for AT&T’s $85.4 billion acquisition. AT&T’s stock was about 2 percent lower.
Comcast is expected Wednesday to formalize its all-cash offer to acquire most of Fox as a result of the judge’s ruling.
Cramer also said the verdict was an “embarrassment” to the Justice Department, adding the judge’s 172-page document was essentially saying the DOJ “didn’t know what it was doing.”
However, Leon may have been too “vicious” to the DOJ in his ruling, Cramer said. “This was brutal.”
“This was the ultimate green light to any vertical merger,” Cramer added.
AT&T has long-argued that buying Time Warner won’t reduce competition because AT&T’s mobile network, satellite TV service DirecTV, and high-speed internet solutions don’t directly compete with any of Time Warner’s content businesses, which include HBO, CNN, and Warner Bros. studio.
Still, Cramer was surprised by the court ruling and what it could mean for Wall Street in the coming weeks.
Tuesday night, the “Mad Money” host said, “I thought that there were going to be some strings attached. … I thought the government made a better case than this. Now, this is a full-bore shutdown of the government’s attempt to block this acquisition.”
— Disclosure: Comcast is the owner of NBCUniversal, parent company of CNBC and CNBC.com. Cramer’s charitable trust owns Comcast.
Cramer: Judge in AT&T-Time Warner deal laid out 'blueprint' for Comcast to buy Fox