Merger news spells uncertainty for GTE, Bell Atlantic ad shops

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The $55 billion stock swap that would merge Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp. raises questions about the future for the two companies' advertising agencies. Each marketer completed major agency reviews in the past 18 months. After its merger with Nynex, Bell Atlantic consolidated creative with Arnold Communications, Boston; Lord Group, New York; Draft Worldwide, Chicago; and Tierney & Partners, Philadelphia. Bell Atlantic also recently completed a $200 million media consolidation with Zenith Media and Media Direct Partners, both New York. GTE last year transferred its $100 million account to Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide, New York, from DDB Needham Worldwide's Focus GTE, Dallas. The two companies have not decided on specific ad plans for the merged company, which will be named soon.

Each company will have equal representation on the merged company's board. The new company will be headquartered in New York with a "significant operational presence" in Dallas. Bell Atlantic CEO Ivan Seidenberg and GTE Chairman-CEO Charles Lee will be co-CEOs, with Mr. Seidenberg taking over as sole CEO in June 2002.

Copyright July 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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