PHONE PRANKS

WHY WE SHOULD HANG UP ON A PLAN TO REBUILD MA BELL

Forget all this stuff about global telephone wars, deregulation and anticompetitiveness. Policy wonks can ponder such issues all they want in view of the possible $50 billion merger of long-distance king AT&T with regional phone operator SBC Communications. Investors need consider only one thing to conclude that the deal is a loser: break-ups almost always are more valuable than megamergers, and AT&T's own history provides a storehouse of evidence. That this deal is even on the drawing board is more confounding than Dennis Rodman.

Recall that the old AT&T, the regulated monopoly known as Ma Bell, was busted into eight pieces...

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