AT&T-SBC Inches Closer

AT&T shareholders at Thursday’s annual meeting approved the
$16 billion proposed merger with SBC Communications .

The nearly unanimous endorsement (97.9 percent of shares voted at the
meeting) brings the telecom mega-deal one step closer to completion.

AT&T and SBC must still convince the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
and the Department of Justice (DoJ) that combining the long-distance
carrier and Baby Bell won’t hurt competition or customers. Some consumer
groups oppose the merger.

The deal will be evaluated in the context of a consolidating industry.
Shortly after the SBC-AT&T merger proposal became public, Verizon won a bidding war
for MCI .

“The positive vote is an important step forward on the road to creating a
leading U.S.-based global communications company for the 21st Century,”
AT&T Chairman and CEO David W. Dorman said in a statement.

Dorman added that AT&T believes the deal will close late 2005 or early 2006.

SBC-AT&T would control 27 percent of the local phone service consumer market
and 37 percent of the long distance consumer market.

The companies said that businesses will still be able to choose from several
systems integrators, equipment vendors and value-added service providers,
foreign carriers, competitive local exchange carriers and cable operators.

Finally, the companies claim the merger will strengthen national security.
AT&T counts the White House, Department of Homeland Security and Department
of State as customers.

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