I was in Brooklyn, NY a little while back and happened by this AT&T office of some kind or another.
It struck me that AT&T’s byzantine history of acquisitions, dissolutions, name changes and other ownership vagaries is about as good it gets when trying to display the crazy corporate world of mega mergers. I happened to have owned some AT&T stock since about 1983, not enough to make much of a difference in my life, but enough to keep track of how insane their dissolve and miraculous re-assimilations have been during that time.
I thought the sign said it all.
My broker told me after reading this post: “On AT&T, the investment bakers and merger & acquisition guys should thank the gov’t for breaking up Ma Bell. The fees generated as a result have been herculean…”
- 1983: Plans for the breakup of AT&T are approved, leading to the creation of independent, regional telephone companies and freeing AT&T to enter non-telecommunications businesses.
- 1984: AT&T is organized into two divisions, AT&T Communications and AT&T Technologies.
- 1991: AT&T acquires NCR Corporation, a computer maker, in a $7.4 billion transaction.
- 1993: AT&T enters the cellular telephone business with the $12.8 billion acquisition of McCaw Cellular Communications.
- 1995: AT&T announces it is splitting into three companies, AT&T Corporation, Lucent Technologies, and NCR Corporation.
- 1999: AT&T acquires cable television giant, Tele-Communications Inc., in a $53.5 billion deal.
- 1999: AT&T outbids Comcast and Microsoft to acquire MediaOne Inc., making the company the nation’s largest operator of cable television. AT&T logo disappears.
- 2001: Comcast acquires AT&T Broadband for $72 billion. AT&T spins off its cellphone business into AT&T Wireless.
- 2004: AT&T Wireless is sold for $41 billion to Cingular Wireless.
- 2005: AT&T merged with SBC, itself a merger of some of the original AT&T operating companies. AT&T also regained the cellphone business it spun off a few years earlier because Cingular was owned by SBC.
- 2007: Guess what? AT&T basically buys itself back from Cingular and thus is back to where it started, kinda, sorta.