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AT&T, BellSouth deal stalls for a third time

The US Federal Communications Commission on Thursday delayed, for the third time, a vote on AT&T’s purchase of BellSouth.

The deal is the subject of a fierce clash between Republicans and Democrats with the former’s FCC Chairman Kevin Martin struggling to find a compromise with his Democratic opponents. Thus far, he has failed.

The parties have been sparring over a consensus on the $82.2bn (£43.05bn) deal for close to a month which has drawn cautionary comments from rivals who fear that the company formed after the buyout will be so powerful as to harm competition. To that end, those rivals have requested tougher conditions from the FCC on the agreement which was announced in March.

The FCC is the only organisation remaining that must endorse the deal. Both companies have already won approval from their shareholders, state regulators and the US Justice Department.

According to US reports, the deal has got stuck because the two Democratic commissioners want more time to scrutinise the deal after it was revealed the Justice Department imposed no conditions on the companies.

In a statement AT&T said: “While we regret that the merger has been delayed by the self-interest of commercial entities and their litany of unreasonable demands, we look forward to the FCC’s approval so that we can get about the business of providing the overwhelming benefits the merger represents to consumers, to the economy and to the public interest.”

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