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AT&T, British Telecom Mull Merger

August 18, 2000

NEW YORK (AP) _ AT&T and British Telecom, two of the world’s largest telephone companies, have been informally discussing the possibility of a merger, the Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Though no formal discussions have taken place, the chiefs of both companies have talked privately over the past month about exploring the possibility of joining forces.

BT chief executive Sir Peter Bonfield told the Journal the two companies ``had no discussions″ about combining, but asked if he would rule out a merger, he said: ``I am very open-minded.″

Both companies have been struggling to keep pace with the fast growing wireless market and faster moving rivals.

AT&T stock has fallen 39 percent so far this year and BT has faced intense competition for its core business in the United Kingdom.

Although such a merger would require surpassing incredible regulatory hurdles, it would create one of the world’s largest telephone companies with a global reach and a stock market value of close to $185 billion.

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