Report: AT&T considering spinning off long-distance business

Wednesday, October 4th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

NEW YORK (AP) _ The board of directors at AT&T Corp. is reportedly in favor of spinning off the company's struggling consumer long-distance business to shareholders rather than selling outright what was once a core unit of the telecommunications giant.

The board of AT&T, the nation's No. 1 long-distance carrier, has expressed interest in the move since it was first proposed by management during an annual retreat held in late September, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

New York-based AT&T has also approached companies that might be interested in buying its long-distance business, including Verizon Communications Inc., the Journal reported.

A spinoff of AT&T's long-distance operations, which provide service to some 60 million consumers and generates roughly $8 billion, would represent one of the largest corporate restructurings in history.

Lucent Technologies Inc. and the seven Baby Bells were created in the 1984 breakup of AT&T's local phone monopoly, which spun off the regional Bell companies. Lucent itself was spun off in 1996.

AT&T has been besieged by troubles in recent months across most of its vast operations, especially its shrinking long-distance business and a cable TV business the company has staked its future on as the best way to deliver telephone and high-speed Internet services. Amid the growing doubt, AT&T's stock has been nearly halved since the spring.

AT&T is also ``working feverishly'' to combine its Business Services unit with that of British Telecommunications PLC and AT&T Wireless Corp. is doing the same as it explores the possibility of a merger with McLean, Va.-based Nextel Communications Inc., the Journal said.

Spokesmen for AT&T and Nextel have refused to comment specifically on similar reports in the past.


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