AT&T Courting Long-Distance Chief

Friday, October 13th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

DENVER (AP) — AT&T is reportedly courting Sol Trujillo, the former chief of Baby Bell phone company U S West, to run its troubled long-distance division.

Trujillo could be named chief executive of the long distance unit if, as speculated by some analysts and media, it is spun off as an independent company, the Denver Rocky Mountain News reported Friday.

AT&T, which has never confirmed that it is considering such a plan, declined to comment on the newspaper report, which cited unidentified sources.

Trujillo, who did not return a phone call seeking comment, resigned as U S West's chief executive at the end of the June when it was acquired by Qwest Communications International.

Investors have been pressuring chief executive and chairman Michael Armstrong and the board to restructure the company and halt the rapid retreat of AT&T's stock. On Friday morning, AT&T was up 25 cents a share at $24.13, less than half its 52-week high of $61.

Sources familiar with the situation told the newspaper that Trujillo favors keeping the long distance division within AT&T. That would put him at odds with cable TV pioneer John Malone and other members of AT&T's board who reportedly think a spinoff would allow AT&T to focus on higher-growth areas such as high-speed Internet access and phone service via cable.

Trujillo is reportedly reviewing several job offers, including one from a startup company in California. He tentatively chose a position in August, then delayed the announcement when other offers came in, the newspaper said.

He declined offers to serve as Qwest's co-chairman amid friction with Qwest CEO Joe Nacchio, the outspoken executive who coincidentally once headed AT&T's long-distance division.