Ina Fried

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Justice Department, AT&T Agree to Halt Court Proceedings Until at Least January

It looks like the Justice Department and AT&T found at least one point of compromise in the battle over Ma Bell’s efforts to acquire T-Mobile USA, albeit a minor one.

The two companies on Monday filed a joint motion to stay their pending federal court case until at least January. The move clearly wasn’t AT&T’s idea, however. The Justice Department said last week it would seek a stay in the case given that AT&T had pulled its paperwork with the Federal Communications Commission.

“If approved by the court, all pretrial and trial deadlines, including depositions and discovery, would be cancelled and a status conference would be held before the court on Jan. 18,” the Justice Department said in a statement. The government said that under the joint plan, AT&T will file a status report with the court by noon on Jan. 12 indicating “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 (FCC) and their plans and timetable for seeking any necessary approval from the FCC.”

In a statement on Monday, AT&T said it is working with T-Mobile on “whether and how” to proceed with the deal.

“AT&T is committed to working with Deutsche Telekom to find a solution that is in the best interests of our respective customers, shareholders and employees,” the company said. “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.”

Until now, AT&T has plowed full steam ahead with the proposed $39 billion deal, despite objections from a long list of competitors and regulators, including the FCC, DOJ, Sprint and C Spire Wireless (formerly known as Cellular South).

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