Washington D.C.-based District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle on Friday called for an additional hearing next Thursday to determine the status of the U.S. Department of Justice's case against the AT&T/T-Mobile USA merger, Bloomberg reports.
This decision comes after Justice Department lawyer Joesph Wayland told Huvelle in Friday's administrative hearing on the case that the department plans to file a motion next week to either withdraw or seek a delay in its case against the merging parties. Huvelle said the Justice Department has until Tuesday to file.
Wayland said the move was based on the decision by the companies to withdraw the merger applications from the Federal Communications Commission. Last month, the FCC called for an administrative hearing on the matter and came out deriding the proposed deal, leading the companies to wait until the Justice Department trial plays out before reapplying for approval.
During the hearing, Huvelle expressed frustration at the decision by the companies to withdraw the merger application.
A trial win for AT&T and Deutsche Telekom may convince the FCC to reconsider the bid, the companies argue.
AT&T and T-Mobile USA couldn't immediately comment to the International Business Times on the matter.
The Justice Department filed the lawsuit in August against the two companies arguing that the deal would lead to higher prices for consumers and weaker service That trial is scheduled to begin on Feb. 13.
Sprint Nextel, the third largest wireless carrier in the U.S. behind Verizon Wireless and AT&T, filed a separate lawsuit shortly after the Justice Department. Sprint and AT&T agreed earlier this week to have that case begin after the Justice Department's case is complete.
Putting off the antitrust trial could be problematic for T-Mobile, which could be looking to forge alliances with other companies. It could even lead Deutsche Telekom to reconsider its options and possibly call off the merger, Stifel Nicolaus analyst Christopher King wrote in a research note provided to the Wall Street Journal.
If the deal doesn't end up going through, AT&T will have to pay a $4 billion breakup fee to Deutsche Telekom. The fee will consist of $3 billion in cash and $1 billion worth in spectrum licenses. AT&T could also sell off some assets in order to gain approval for the merger.
Shares of AT&T are up 0.26 percent to 28.93 in mid-afternoon trading.