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Patricia O'Connell
Senior Communications Manager

Amy Worlton Comments on Team Telecom’s Role in Reviewing International Deals

The Deal Pipeline 
October 12, 2016

Amy E. Worlton, a partner in Wiley Rein’s International Trade and Telecom, Media & Technology practices, was quoted in an October 7 article in The Deal Pipeline about Team Telecom’s role in the U.S. approval process of international mergers and acquisitions involving certain Federal Communications Commission (FCC) licensees, and how that may change in the future. Team Telecom is described in the article as a federal interagency group comprised of representatives from national security-focused government entities including the U.S. Departments of Homeland Security, Defense, and Justice. While Team Telecom has long focused on vetting transactions for national security concerns involving foreign entities and FCC licensees, it has recently expanded into the realm of foreign investors and private equity firms, causing delays in deal closings and frustration for impacted companies, according to the article.

“We have seen potential deals restructured where possible to avoid the delays of the Team Telecom process,” said Ms. Worlton. “Because of that transaction risk, we have seen profitable businesses in the United States shut down, as the parties to a transaction could not bear the transaction risk that inherently arose in the unpredictable length of a Team Telecom review. These transactions involved no apparent national security issue.” Because the Team Telecom process typically adds six to nine months to the transaction completion, a full security review could take over a year if there are any additional concerns among Executive branch agencies. The security clearance process is further complicated by the federal government’s growing concern about cybersecurity issues. While this diligence is a “laudable goal,” there needs to be “greater predictability, transparency, and accountability,” Ms. Worlton said.

The FCC has released a notice of proposed rulemaking to streamline Team Telecom and has received public feedback. Ms. Worlton pointed out that the Team Telecom reform rulemaking has moved quickly and “it may be a priority for FCC Chairman Wheeler to finish before the end of the Obama Administration.”