Why AT&T Pursued A Big Merger

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According to Thomson Reuters and Freeman Consulting, AT&T's advisers - Greenhill & Company, Evercore Partners and JPMorgan Chase - will make $18 million to $36 million each if the deal goes through. T-Mobile's advisers, Deutsche Bank, Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup, still stand to make a sizable sum even if the deal fails as a result of the breakup fee.

But the advisers that AT&T's board were listening to most intently were the lawyers who would be on the front lines of the battle: Arnold & Porter and Crowell & Moring, which worked the antitrust strategy in Washington. (Sullivan & Cromwell worked on the deal mechanics.)

Those firms all charge by the hour, so the cynic - or skeptic - might suggest they had every incentive to push the deal ahead.

According to people involved in the decision-making process, the lawyers put the chances of success at 60 to 70 percent.

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