AT&T plans to split in three

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AT&T today proposed dividing the corporation into three companies in what is being billed as the biggest corporate breakup in history.

Gone would be the computer division--formerly NCR Corp. and now called AT&T Global Information Solutions. That unit, bought for $7.5 billion just five years ago, would be spun off to shareholders. It will shed 8,500 of its 43,000 jobs and will cease making its own PCs.

AT&T will take a $1.5 billion charge due to the restructuring.

Also to be spun off is the old Bell Laboratories division, now called AT&T's Network Systems Group. Included in that unit are Global Business Communications Systems (business phone systems), Consumer Products (telephones), AT&T Paradyne (modems) and Microelectronics.

Also gone would be AT&T Capital Corp., a leasing unit 80% owned by AT&T. The company said it would sell its remaining interest.

Left would be AT&T's current Communications Services Group (including the newly named AT&T New Media Services unit), the AT&T Universal Card Services Corp., the newly established AT&T Solutions consulting and systems-integration organization, and AT&T Wireless Services, formerly McCaw Cellular Communications.

``Changes in customer needs, technology and public policy are radically transforming our industry,'' said Chairman Robert E. Allen. ``We now see this restructuring as the next logical turn in AT&T's journey since divestiture.''

Mr. Allen told a news conference Wednesday afternoon that bigger is not necessarily better. While vertical integration worked for the old AT&T, he said the problems of the other businesses, including the computer business, took time away from management best spent on other matters.

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