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The Department of Justice’s antitrust division has no objections to Deutsche Telekom ‘s purchase of U.S. wireless carrier VoiceStream Communications, but antitrust is the least of the German phone giant’s worries: The deal has stoked significant protectionist sentiment on Capitol Hill. Because Deutsche Telekom currently has no wireless operations in the U.S., antitrust regulators had little to review. The company announced in a press release late Wednesday that the DOJ had simply allowed the 30-day waiting period, as set in the Hart Scott Rodino Act regulating mergers, to expire without asking for detailed information about the deal. The company’s real problem remains in Congress, where leading lawmakers are moving to slam the door on any acquisitions in the U.S. by foreign telecoms that are at least 25 percent government-owned. If the VoiceStream deal were to close, the German government would own about 44 percent of Deutsche Telekom. Led by Sen. Ernest Hollings (D-S.C.), lawmakers in July inserted a provision to block foreign takeovers into one of the 13 appropriations bills that are needed to keep the government running. President Clinton has threatened to veto the bill for unrelated reasons, but the White House has also expressed opposition to that provision. A subcommittee of the House Commerce Committee held a hearing Thursday on a legislative proposal similar to Hollings’ budget rider. The bill has little chance of passing this year, but if the budget provision remains intact, the VoiceStream deal would stop anyway. The merger also must be approved by the Federal Communications Commission and the Committee on Foreign Investment in the U.S., a multi-agency body charged with protecting U.S. national security that recently delayed Nippon Telegraph & Telephone’s purchase of U.S. Web hosting company Verio . Related Articles from The Industry Standard: Do You Have That Wireless Carrier in a Size 6? NTT-Verio Might Pave Way for Other Foreign Firms Deutsche Telekom’s $51 Billion Question Copyright � 2000 The Industry Standard

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