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Armstrong acknowledges sale talks

AT&T Chairman Michael Armstrong acknowledged that he has talked to other companies about possibly selling his entire operation, not just the cable systems.

Speaking at Goldman Sachs' annunal Communicopia media investor conference in New York, Armstrong said AT&T would "seriously consider" any offer for the company if it's pro-competitive and benefits shareholders.

He emphasized that AT&T has not sought out any merger proposals. "We had not gone out and contacted any companies. But after the announcement of the Comcast bid the phone started ringing off the hook. We thought the right course of action was to understand those inquiries and combinations."

Amstrong's willingness to sell his telephone operations could substantially ease Comcast's attempts to buy AT&T's cable operations, because AT&T would have a plan as to what to do with its troubled long distance and business phone units.

Industry executives said that AT&T has been discussing merging the long distance and other division with BellSouth. At the same conference, BellSouth CEO Duane Ackerman obliquely said that "There are some things in that market that we don't have today and there are many different ways to get them.'' - John M. Higgins