Remember the days, back in 2000, when AOL merged with Time Warner in an acquisition valued at $164bn?

By late 2002, AOL was recording a $45.5bn writedown charge for what’s become known as one of the least successful corporate mergers ever.

What relevance does this has to 2016, though? Well, US telco AT&T has agreed to pay $85.4bn to buy… Time Warner, pending regulatory approval.

“This is not a horizontal deal. This is vertical merger. You would be hardpressed to find examples where vertical mergers have been blocked,” said AT&T boss Randall Stephenson.

The deal includes Time Warner’s CNN, HBO and Warner Bros subsidiaries. “We believe premium content is always going to win. That’s been true on the big screen, the TV screen and we believe it is true on the mobile screen,” said Stephenson.

The deal is comparable to rival telco Comcast’s acquisition of 51% of NBC Universal for $13.75bn in 2009, before buying the other 49% for $16.7bn in 2013. AT&T is thought to have muscled out interest from Apple in a Time Warner acquisition earlier this year, incidentally.

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