AT&T Inc., which is fighting the U.S. Justice Department in court over its proposed $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner Inc., withdrew from an annual investor conference scheduled for Las Vegas next week.
The company didn’t give a reason. John Donovan, who oversees AT&T’s phone and pay-TV operations, was scheduled to speak Jan. 8 to kick off Citigroup Inc.’s 2018 Global TMT West Conference, but the company canceled on Dec. 27. He presented for the past three years at the event.
The Justice Department sued to block AT&T’s takeover of Time Warner on Nov. 20, saying the merger would mean higher television bills and fewer innovations in entertainment. The company has said the merger would pave the way for new advertising approaches that tailor messages to individual viewers.
Lawyers for AT&T and the Justice Department were in court Friday in Washington to update the judge overseeing the lawsuit. They said the exchange of evidence was proceeding as scheduled with both sides producing documents and scheduling depositions of witnesses. The trial is set to begin March 19.
AT&T declined to comment on the cancellation. Donovan’s appearance at the Citi conference has coincided with the annual CES technology show in Las Vegas. AT&T has had a large presence at the event in the past, but has scaled back in recent years. Some officials will be there next week, discussing topics like the planned introduction of 5G wireless service.
If approved, the Time Warner purchase would unite a telecom giant with the owner of CNN, Warner Bros., TNT, TBS and HBO. AT&T, the owner of DirecTV, is the largest pay-TV distributor, as well as a powerhouse in mobile phones and landlines.
— With assistance by Joshua Fineman, and David McLaughlin