RealTime IT News

Malone Leaves AT&T Board

Four weeks earlier than expected, Liberty Media boss John Malone announced his resignation Tuesday from AT&T Corp.'s board of directors.

Malone, scheduled to leave the board Aug. 10, said he was leaving because of a conflict of interest dealing with Comcast's recent hostile takeover bid, according to a resignation letter acquired by Reuters.

C. Michael Armstrong, AT&T chairman and chief executive officer, said he understood Malone's decision and wished him the best.

"John Malone is a unique figure in American business history and we have been fortunate to have the benefit of his insight and vision," Armstrong said.

Since it's likely the next four weeks (at least) will be spent dealing with Comcast's attempt to acquire AT&T Broadband, it's unlikely any AT&T board members will give much notice to Malone's departure.

In fact, the announcement likely came as a surprise to many who thought Malone would just sit out his last four weeks on the sidelines. Greg Braden, AT&T Broadband executive vice president of broadband services and chief technology officer, speaking at the Internet World Chicago 2001, made no mention of Malone's departure in a keynote speech he gave to attendees.

Malone has been trying to leave the AT&T fold for months now, culminating in his bid to separate Liberty Media from AT&T, which wasn't possible until the Internal Revenue Service signed off on the company's departure.

AT&T gained Liberty Media Corp. through its acquisition of Tele-Communications Inc., in March 1999. The buyout helped Ma Bell add to its cable network footprint, making it the largest cable operator in the nation. Malone wanted out of AT&T from the start, but there is a two-year statute of limits if you will on merger deals, so that companies don't merge only to separate again to avoid certain federal taxes.