BRASILIA, Oct 18 (Reuters) - Brazil’s antitrust authority on Wednesday approved a merger of Time-Warner Inc and AT&T Inc, and allowed the companies to keep all of their assets in the country, under certain conditions.
The Brazilian regulator Cade unanimously voted to approve the deal, which is facing strong regulatory scrutiny in the United States, as long as the companies’ operations in Brazil remain separate and agree not to share sensitive information.
The merged company must also disclose the terms of all content licensing and TV programming deals to Cade, which will assess if they undermine competition in the market.
“The agreement forces the companies to observe objective non-discrimination standards that are more comprehensive than the usual legal demands,” said Gilvandro Araújo, the Cade councilor in charge of the case.
The $85.4 billion transaction is still subject to approval by Brazil’s telecom regulator, Anatel, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice. AT&T has said it expects the Time Warner acquisition to close by the end of the year.
Time-Warner licenses several TV channels in Brazil including premium film channel HBO and sports network Esporte Interativo. AT&T owns one of its main clients, Sky Brasil Serviços Ltda, Brazil’s No. 2 satellite television provider.
Cade’s demands, which echo similar agreements in Chile and Mexico, aim to address concerns the resulting company could close off markets to rival content providers and television services.
Still, AT&T may sidestep those measures. Reuters reported last month it is evaluating a sale of its TV operations in Latin America as it seeks to pay down debt. (Reporting by Bruno Federowski; Editing by Chris Reese)