News Briefs

SAN MATEO (03/03/2000) - Big-name telecommunications carriers considering mergersA flurry of merger rumors circulated throughout the telecommunications industry this week, with reports that German telecom company Deutsche Telekom hopes to merge with Qwest Communications, and that SBC Communications and BellSouth want to combine their cellular interests.

Deutsche Telekom declined to comment on reports that it is offering between $60 and $79 per share to acquire Qwest, which is already in the midst of a merger deal with US West. However, the deal makes sense for the German carrier, according to one analyst, because of the geographical coverage it would gain.

"Buying Qwest would give [Deutsche Telekom] America, and it would give them Europe as well," said Melanie Posey, an analyst at International Data Corp., in Framingham, Mass.

A merger of SBC and BellSouth's cellular interests would create a network of about 16.5 million wireless users, putting it ahead of AT&T Wireless, which claims 12 million users, but behind the Bell Atlantic/Vodafone Airtouch joint venture that will have more than 20 million users. Officials from both SBC and BellSouth refused to comment on the reports.

U.S. releases e-commerce numbers

The U.S. Department of Commerce's Census Bureau has released the first official estimate of retail Internet sales. The bureau stated retail sales over the Web were about $5.3 billion for the fourth quarter of 1999. This accounts for .064 percent of total U.S. retail sales.

DoubleClick brouhaha prompts response

DoubleClick CEO Kevin O'Connor, responding to criticism that the Internet advertising company allegedly violated customer privacy in tracking Internet movements, said in a prepared statement this week that he "made a mistake by planning to merge names with anonymous user activity across Web sites in absence of government and industry privacy standards." But he added, "DoubleClick has not implemented this plan, and has never associated names or any other personally identifiable information with anonymous user activity across Web sites." He pledged that DoubleClick would await clear industry standards before deciding future directions on a number of new products.

Lucent spins off enterprise unit

Lucent Technologies this week said it plans to spin off a separate company that will focus on the enterprise networking market. The company's PBX, enterprise switching, call center, structured cabling, and LAN-based data business units will form an $8 billion business, which has yet to be named. Officials said the move was an effort to gain an edge in high-growth areas of the communications market, including optical and wireless networking.

Wal-Mart appoints online CEO

Wal-Mart has appointed Jeanne Jackson as CEO of its new online division, Wal-Mart.com. Jackson joins the company from the Banana Republic division of Gap, where she also held the position of CEO and was responsible for the online programs for all three Gap brands -- Gap, Banana Republic, and Old Navy. She will report to the Wal-Mart board of directors, and will be on the Wal-Mart.com board.

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More about AT&TAT&T WirelessBellSouthDeutsche TelekomDoubleClickLucentLucent TechnologiesQwestQwest CommunicationsVodafoneWal-Mart

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