Employees at Tele-Communications Inc.'s corporate
headquarters and field offices remained in good spirits about their pending merger with
AT&T Corp. last week.
In large part, TCI staffers -- from administrative
assistants, up to executive vice presidents -- said they feel cautiously optimistic about
the merger, pointing to information provided to them via a conference call with TCI
president and chief operating officer Leo J. Hindery Jr. as a key reassurance.
Hindery penned a memo to employees the day of the merger,
assuring them that "the implications to you and to your families are, in my opinion,
He noted that the MSO's corporate headquarters will
stay in Denver, and that he expects "very few changes in the way that we will
continue to work together as a team and in staffing."
"We still have a very large cable company to run and
millions of customers to serve, and we need to remain pretty much as we are today, except
that we will now be much more capable on the products side," Hindery told employees.
At press time, Hindery was scheduled to drop in on several
TCI employees said they're already looking forward to
better insurance and health benefits that will likely be extended to them from AT&T.
Others said they weren't worried about layoffs, not
just because of senior-executive reassurances, but because of the volume of work that
needs to be done over the next five years, and because there is little duplication in
TCI's staff and AT&T's staff.
"They're phone people. We're cable people.
It's like we kind of need each other," said one TCI employee, who requested
A technical staffer in TCI's Western region, who also
asked not to be named, said he was "pretty pumped up" about the merger, because,
"let's face it -- AT&T trains their people, AT&T pays more and AT&T
cares about craftsmanship."
Still, the prospect of "culture clash" always
Julie Berg, executive vice president and chief marketing
officer for MediaOne, warned that AT&T and TCI may have some kinks to work out.
Berg, who was an executive at AirTouch Cellular, called the
deal "strikingly similar" to AT&T's acquisition of Cellular One in the
early 1990s. She noted that Cellular One, like TCI, was a highly decentralized,
entrepreneurial company, dominated by a charismatic executive.
"There were some pretty significant cultural issues
and adjustments as those two companies came together," she said. "I would look
for some of these issues to surface here, as well."
Other MSO and vendor executives who have worked with
AT&T on various projects agreed with Berg -- "especially given AT&T's
tendency to gold-plate everything," one Time Warner Cable executive said.
Charles Paikert contributed to this story.
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