UPDATED | November 20, 2017  4:15 PM

NEW YORK (AP) – The Justice Department intends to sue AT&T to stop its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner, according to a person familiar with the matter who was not authorized to discuss the matter ahead of the suit’s official filing.

gettyimages 57600762 Justice Dept. To Sue To Stop AT&Ts $85B Time Warner Deal

(credit: Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

That sets the stage for a legal battle with AT&T. The telecom giant’s CEO Randall Stephenson said earlier this month that he would not sell “key franchises” of Time Warner to get the deal done.

The government’s objections to the deal have surprised many on Wall Street. AT&T and Time Warner are not direct competitors. Mergers between such companies have typically had an easier time winning government approval.

AT&T Senior Executive Vice President and General Counsel David R. McAtee II issued the following statement.

“Today’s DOJ lawsuit is a radical and inexplicable departure from decades of antitrust precedent. Vertical mergers like this one are routinely approved because they benefit consumers without removing any competitor from the market. We see no legitimate reason for our merger to be treated differently.”

“Our merger combines Time Warner’s content and talent with AT&T’s TV, wireless and broadband distribution platforms. The result will help make television more affordable, innovative, interactive and mobile. Fortunately, the Department of Justice doesn’t have the final say in this matter. Rather, it bears the burden of proving to the U.S. District Court that the transaction violates the law. We are confident that the Court will reject the Government’s claims and permit this merger under longstanding legal precedent.”

(© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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