AT&T talking with cable buyers, not merger shopping

AT&T is still talking with cable companies about selling its broadband division, but hasn't sought merger partners for that unit, C. Michael Armstrong, AT&T's chairman and chief executive officer, said Wednesday.

Armstrong spoke at The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. investor conference in New York and AT&T spokesman John Heath confirmed Armstrong's comments that appeared in a published report. Armstrong did not say which companies are negotiating with AT&T, but the company has reportedly been talking with AOL Time Warner Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Cox Communications Inc. AT&T initially spurned a US$44.5 billion offer for AT&T Broadband Inc. from Comcast Corp. in July. AT&T has delayed plans to spin off its broadband and consumer divisions as independent businesses. It already has spun off its wireless division.

AT&T plans to cut spending on new telecommunication equipment for its core businesses by 20 percent or more next year, Armstrong said.

Problems will be resolved with the disappointing Concert Communications Co. joint venture with British Telecommunications PLC within the next few weeks, Armstrong said. The European long-haul carrier Concert takes in US$7 billion in annual revenue but those figures are declining, network costs are rising and the carrier has a lot of debt.

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