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FCC approves $86B telecom merger

[JURIST] The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) [official website] approved the proposed $86 billion AT&amptT-BellSouth merger [AT&T materials] Friday, after several months delay. The telecom merger was approved [press release] 4-0 by the FCC commissioners, who found that "significant public interest benefits are likely to result from this transaction." The merger has been delayed three times [JURIST report] as the proposal has failed to gain approval from a majority of the five FCC commissioners. The fifth FCC Commissioner, Robert M. McDowell [official profile], did not vote [PDF statement; JURIST report] on the merger despite being cleared [JURIST report] to do so by the FCC general counsel, due to a conflict of interest. McDowell's recusal had left a 2-2 deadlock between the remaining commissioners over what conditions should be imposed on the merger. A consensus was reached upon the acceptance of the conditions that AT&T had proposed in a formal letter [text] sent to the FCC on Thursday.

AT&T's proposed acquisition of BellSouth was first announced in March 2006; the merger will create the nation's dominant phone company. The merger had already been approved [text] without reservation by the US Department of Justice Antitrust Division [official website] following an eight-month investigation that concluded that AT&T's proposed acquisition of BellSouth was not likely to "substantially reduce competition" in the US telecom market. CNET News has more.

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