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AT&T, Deutsche Telekom, Justice Get Holiday Break

D.C. District Court Judge Ellen Huvelle has granted a stay of any further court proceedings in Justice vs. AT&T–T-Mobile until Jan. 18, including a planned Dec. 15 conference. But the judge has also set a Jan. 12 deadline for a decision from the companies on whether they plan to proceed with the deal -- AT&T and T-Mobile withdrew their FCC application after learning the commission was recommending the deal was not in the public interest.

AT&T and Deutsche Telekom, joined by the Justice Department, had asked for what amounts to a holiday stay of any more proceedings in the DOJ antitrust suit against their merger until that Jan. 18 date as they decide how to proceed. An AT&T source indicated last week they are not eager to have Justice drop the suit since, if they won they could use that as ammunition to re-file the merger at the FCC, but the companies said Monday they could use the break reconnoiter.

But they also said they are still looking for a way to make the merger work.

"AT&T and Deutsche Telekom advised Judge Huvelle this morning that they wish to stay any further Court proceedings until Jan. 18, 2012, to allow the two companies time to evaluate all options," said the companies in a statement. Justice joined in the filing.

"AT&T is committed to working with Deutsche Telekom to find a solution that is in the best interests of our respective customers, shareholders and employees.  We are actively considering whether and how to revise our current transaction to achieve the necessary regulatory approvals so that we can deliver the capacity enhancements and improved customer service that can only be derived from combining our two companies' wireless assets."

It won't be that much of a holiday break for the respective lawyers. The judge said she wanted a status report by Jan. 12 on the status of the deal, including whether they plan to proceed with that deal, or another transaction -- AT&T could spin off some assets to make the deal more palatable to regulators -- and when and whether they plan to re-file at the FCC.