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AT&T to axe 10,000 jobs
Would follow the $67B purchase of BellSouth; would be on top of 26,000 previously announced job cuts; FCC to review deal.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) - AT&T said Monday it will cut up to 10,000 jobs after it completes its $67 billion takeover of BellSouth, according to an AT&T document outlining details of the merger.

The cuts, some of which will come from attrition, are equal to about 3 percent of the combined work force of AT&T and BellSouth, including their jointly owned Cingular, the No. 1 cell phone service provider.

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The document said the job cuts will be in addition to 26,000 previously announced reductions, half of which related to the original AT&T's acquisition by SBC Communications in November. SBC chose the AT&T name for the combined company.

According to a spokesman at BellSouth, the 10,000 cuts will come over a three-year period from employees of AT&T, Bell South and Cingular, the companies' wireless joint venture. He added that some of those job cuts could come from attrition.

BellSouth employs approximately 63,000 people, while AT&T has nearly 190,000 workers and Cingular has about 62,000. The combined company will have roughly 315,000 employees.

The merger, announced on Sunday, would solidify AT&T's position as the nation's biggest phone company and go a long way toward undoing the breakup of the old AT&T monopoly more than two decades ago.

It would also bring ownership of Cingular Wireless under one roof, which Wall Street analysts have said would streamline management and allow one parent company to get more of the financial benefits of the nation's biggest wireless phone business.

An acquisition of BellSouth would recombine the former AT&T (Research), also known as "Ma Bell," with four of the seven original "Baby Bell" regional telephone companies that were split off when AT&T was broken up under court order in 1984.

At the time, AT&T controlled the long-distance telephone assets and its seven offspring offered regional and local telephone services.

Together, AT&T and BellSouth (Research) would have a national long-distance telephone and data network, residential customers stretching from Florida to California and business clients comprising more than half of the Fortune 1000, analysts have said.

The next largest telephone company is Verizon Communications.

Meanwhile, two consumer groups plan to urge regulators to block the proposed deal on antitrust grounds, Reuters reported.

Consumers Union and the Consumer Federation of America said Sunday that they would ask the Justice Department's antitrust division to reject the deal, arguing it would lead to higher prices for cell phone and traditional land line service.

And Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said Monday the agency would carefully review the merger, including any allegations of harm.

"We will carefully weigh the information presented, examining any allegations of specific harm in individual markets and the potential benefits for the deployment of new services," Martin said in a statement, according to Reuters.

The agency must determine whether the deal benefits the public. The transaction must also receive approval from U.S. antitrust authorities.

-- from staff and wire reports


Ma Bell -- reborn. The gigantic AT&T-BellSouth deal could signal a new era of telecom consolidation, and reverse what the government broke up over two decades ago. Click here Top of page

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