AT&T set to buy BellSouth for $67 billion

MUMBAI: In a move that would make it the telecommunication superpower of the US, AT&T Corporation will buy out BellSouth Corporation for $67 billion.

Apart from acquiring business of nearly 70 million local phone customers, the merger will also get AT&T the ownership of US cell phone major Cingular Wireless. As of now, Cingular is jointly owned by AT&T and BellSouth. The purchase would also help AT&T to fight Comcast and other cable television companies that are entering the telecom business.

AT&T is presently the largest phone company in the US, while BellSouth, which operates in a nine-state region in the Southeast, is third behind Verizon Communications. The dream combination of AT&T-BellSouth would have $130 billion in sales and serve residential customers in 22 states.

According to a New York Times report, under the terms of the deal, shareholders of BellSouth will receive 1.325 shares of AT&T common stock for each BellSouth common share. The new AT&T, which was formed in November when SB Communications Inc. completed its acquisition of AT&T Corp., also said it would repurchase at least $10 billion of its common shares over the next 22 months.

The AT&T-BellSouth combination will dominate its nearest competitor, Verizon. After SBC made its bid to AT&T last year, Verizon had rushed to buy the long-distance carrier MCI Inc.

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