It doesn’t look like investors are convinced the AT&T-Time Warner mega-merger is going to go through, based on early market reaction.
Time Warner, which agreed to an acquisition by AT&T for $107.50 per share, is trading at only $87.91 per share as of 10:36 a.m. ET. Typically, when an acquisition is announced, the share price jumps and trades at or near the deal price.
In this case, the gap between the current share price and the deal price would indicate that investors believe that the regulatory hurdles that AT&T and Time Warner have to overcome may be too much.
Based on the spread between the offer price and the current trading price, Bloomberg estimates that traders are pricing in only a 25.09% chance the deal will go through.
Already, politicians are coming out against the deal with both presidential nominees Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton expressing scepticism about the potential deal along with Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Tim Kaine, and Senators Bernie Sanders and Al Franken. Additionally, the Department of Justice has been quicker to block large mergers in the past year, most notably Halliburton-Baker Hughes, Anthem-Cigna, Aetna-Humana, and Staples-Office Depot.
AT&T and Time Warner’s response has been that the integration of the two companies does not hinder competition since the two firms compete in different areas — Time Warner creates content while AT&T delivers it. AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson defended the deal in an interview on CNBC.
“It’s a big merger, but it’s vertical integration and think about the area’s that have been really contentious over the last few years in our industry and in [Time Warner CEO] Jeff [Bewkes] industry, they have been horizontal mergers where the government was concerned about a competitor being taken out of the marketplace,” said Stephenson. “This has none of that.”
Stephenson and Bewkes have also reiterated this point in other media appearances since the deal was announced.
So far, it does not seem like investors are buying into the deal actually going through. Here’s Time Warner’s stock price over Monday morning: