Local Insight Plucks Berry From AT&T

Local Insight Regatta Holdings and AT&T announced the acquisition of L.M. Berry‘s Independent Line of Business unit. Terms of the agreement were not disclosed. According to the press release:

The transaction will combine two industry-leading organizations responsible for selling, producing and distributing nearly 700 print and online directories in North America. In connection with the transaction, Local Insight Regatta Holdings will also become an authorized reseller of advertising for AT&T’s YELLOWPAGES.COM Network, a leading Internet Yellow Pages and local search site.

While this sale is not totally unexpected, it does raise some questions about the future of the nearly 100-year-old Dayton-based L.M. Berry and Co. According to Scott Pomeroy, director of Local Insight Regatta: “I am pleased to say that key senior leaders from Berry have agreed to be part of the new company’s senior leadership. Dan Graham, current president and CEO of The Berry Co., has agreed to serve as executive vice president and chief administrative officer of the combined company — and in that capacity, will have responsibility for all integration initiatives, information technology and cultural stewardship. Kathy Geiger-Schwab, currently executive vice president for The Berry Co., will serve as chief strategy officer of the combined company, overseeing all strategic elements of the business including strategic and digital initiatives.”

As part of the agreement, AT&T will retain L.M. Berry‘s South Central Area line of business, which it manages in AT&T’s five-state region (Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi and Tennessee), and Berry Network Inc., its certified marketing representative unit, which places print and Internet directory advertising for national businesses.

L.M. Berry’s founder, Loren Berry, was the primary founder of the modern Yellow Pages, and his company was instrumental in building many of the current international directory companies through its joint ownership of ITT World Directories (now Truvo). When L.M. Berry was purchased by BellSouth, many of its entrepreneurial desires were placed on hold and this was again the case when it became part of AT&T’s BellSouth acquisition. The freedom from its corporate restrictions and new ties to an aggressive and growing investment group will provide the joint company with many more opportunities for growth in local media.

We will provide additional coverage of this transaction as we complete additional discussions with all the parties involved.

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