AT&T to Buy BellSouth

According to a story in today’s New York Times AT&T (formerly SBC) is near a deal to acquire BellSouth:

AT&T is expected to pay about $65 billion for BellSouth, the country’s third largest phone company, which operates in a nine-state region in the Southeast. The price represents a 25 percent to 30 percent premium for BellSouth shareholders.

The Times is reporting that a deal may be announced as early as Monday. The combination would create (recreate) a communications giant with combined estimated Yellow Pages revenues of roughly $5.6 billion and approximately 3,800 sales representatives. Both AT&T and BellSouth have DSL partnerships with Yahoo! (both also have IPTV initiatives). AT&T has a market cap of $91 billion, while BellSouth is worth approximately $56 billion today.

There were numerous rumors of earlier, failed discussions between the two companies. And there has been considerable speculation in the recent past that the two companies would combine and spin off their directory divisions at some point in the future. It’s not clear to me whether this deal, if it were to happen, would make that more or less likely. (My colleague Charles Laughlin would have a more nuanced perspective on that issue. However, telco parents have sold directory assets to pay down debt in many instances in the past.)

The Wall Street Journal (sub. req’d), says:

AT&T is targeting at least $2 billion in cost savings in BellSouth deal, said a person familiar with the matter Sunday … The total equity value of the deal is at least $65 billion, plus the assumption of an additional $17 billion of BellSouth debt.

The two companies have a parternship in the newly re-energized YellowPages.com (and Cingular, to become AT&T wireless). And I could imagine a combined company becoming more active and making some intreresting online acquisitions to better position itself on the Internet. In fact I could imagine a fairly major acquisition in the search space.

We’ll go into all aspects of the transaction, including the competitive implications, if it’s confirmed, later this week.

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More from Reuters, MarketWatch, USAToday and many others. Here’s another N.Y. Times piece (reg. req’d) that has a great deal more detail and some additional features.

Thus far in my "career" as a blogger I have resisted the urge to use the term "grok." But now I break that solemn vow with: Om "groks" the deal.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Dick Larkin - YP Commando News

    Do you remember at the Kelsey conference in November 2004 when SBC and BellSouth announced the acquisition of YellowPages.com?

    Suhkinder Singh Cassidy, manager of Google’s local business said that she believed that it was simply a step toward the tow companies merging.

    Let’s start a pool to bet when they will announced that they are seeking "Strategic Alternatives" to maximize shareholder value for their Yellow Pages directory business.

    Assuming they could raise $15-$20 billion for their directory business, that would help pay for the telco deal.

    More of my thoughts on the Yellow Pages Commando Blog .

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