AT&T CEO: Comcast's offer is serious

AT&T Corp.'s chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) believes Comcast Corp.'s unsolicited US$44.5 billion bid for AT&T Broadband is serious, according to prepared remarks to the Boston Chamber of Commerce on Tuesday.

In his remarks, a little more detail emerged about early talks AT&T had with the cable TV company. C. Michael Armstrong, AT&T's chairman and CEO, met with Comcast's president, Brian Roberts, in January in a brief meeting to talk about a number of things. "Brian had two more conversations with our CFO (AT&T Chief Financial Officer Charles Noski)," Armstrong said, according to a transcript of his speech.

No concrete proposal emerged from those conversations, Armstrong said. The first word of a real offer came in a fax to his home Sunday morning, "about the same time it appeared on fax machines of newspapers around the country."

Armstrong reiterated the company's position that there are no plans to sell off AT&T Broadband, sticking to the strategy of spinning it off to shareholders as an independent company, as it did with AT&T Wireless Inc. on Monday and plans to do with its AT&T Consumer division.

But Armstrong and the board will take some time to think about it, with the Comcast offer on the table.

"Comcast's offer is serious. And we are giving it serious consideration," Armstrong said. "It recognizes at least some of the value that we've created in AT&T Broadband. The question is whether it recognizes the right value. But before we can take a position on their offer, we have to make sure that we truly understand it. And then we need to compare it to our other options."

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