The rumored deal that would see AT&T purchase DirecTV for $40 billion may be inching closer to reality. According to The Wall Street Journal, which first reported AT&T's interest in the satellite provider, DirecTV has been in talks with Goldman Sachs and other advisors about a potential acquisition. But a proposal may not be imminent; just yesterday, DirecTV CEO Mike White looked to steer the conversation away from "possible transactions that might involve DirecTV." During a media conference call, White emphasized that the Journal's report wasn't based on "official" sources of information. "We don't view it as productive to speculate about alternative business combinations which may or may not occur."
It might not be productive, but the rumor is hard to ignore — especially in light of Comcast's ongoing pursuit of Time Warner Cable. AT&T and DirecTV may not have entered talks in the first place if not for Comcast's mega purchase. White has already stated that regulators should leave no stone unturned in scrutinizing that deal. "I think it certainly creates some significant changes in the competitive landscape that we need to think hard about," he said in February. "If the deal is approved as proposed, it clearly represents an unprecedented media concentration in one company."
Should AT&T decide to move forward and officially make an offer, it could eventually find itself in control of a TV service with roughly 26 million subscribers. That total is culled both from AT&T's current U-verse customer base and DirecTV's viewership. The company's interest in video is only growing; last month, AT&T announced it would be spending heavily to "acquire, invest in and launch over-the-top video services." Scooping up DirecTV would be a tremendous boon to that plan.