AT&T dealmakers apply their magic to M&A

A team of internal merger-and-acquisition wizards conjured up a succession of deals over two decades that turned Midwestern regional telco Southwestern Bell into AT&T (NYSE: T), now the largest U.S. telecom carrier by revenue. And although this famed merger team was frustrated in its attempt to close a merger deal with T-Mobile US (NYSE:TMUS) in 2011 after antitrust authorities stepped in, it is still chasing deals both large and small.

The group of some 20 people is now reportedly negotiating for AT&T to acquire satellite-TV company DirecTV (NASDAQ: DTV) in a deal worth close to $50 billion. The Wall Street Journal, citing data from Dealogic, said the team has closed on more than a quarter of a trillion dollars in acquisitions over the past two decades, including debt. In fact, the team was responsible for more than 110 spectrum deals in 2012 and 2013.

Thanks to its analytical insights, the merger team also provides advice on other business strategies and even purportedly reviewed AT&T's initial deal to carry the Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) iPhone.

Nonetheless, the group, which is based in AT&T's Dallas headquarters, stays out of the limelight. A banker who has worked on numerous deals with AT&T told the Wall Street Journal that he has never even met the merger team's leader, Rick Moore, though he has seen Moore's signature on documents. For more, see this Wall Street Journal article. (sub. req.)

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