AT&T CEO Defends His Strategy, Successor After Activist Attack

Date : 09/17/2019 @ 1:12PM
Source : Dow Jones News
Stock : AT&T Inc (T)
Quote : 38.55  -0.06 (-0.16%) @ 1:00AM
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AT&T CEO Defends His Strategy, Successor After Activist Attack

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By Drew FitzGerald 

AT&T Inc. Chief Executive Randall Stephenson defended his strategy and likely successor in his first public remarks since an activist hedge fund challenged the company to change direction.

Speaking at a Goldman Sachs' conference in New York, the telecom boss said newly named chief operating officer John Stankey was the right pick to make the Dallas company's telecommunications, media and advertising businesses work together more effectively. The chairman and CEO said his board considered a short list of potential candidates who could turn around divisions with old business models, succeed in telecom and manage a media division.

"It was a very short list, and John Stankey quickly rose to the top," Mr. Stephenson said on Tuesday.

The AT&T CEO's response came a week after hedge fund Elliott Management Corp. revealed a small stake in the telecom giant and called on the company to consider shedding several of the businesses it took on during a five-year acquisition spree. The activist investor saved special criticism for AT&T's purchase and integration of satellite provider DirecTV, which has been losing subscribers. It also questioned whether the recent $80 billion-plus acquisition of Time Warner made strategic sense.

Elliott had studied the company for months but was spurred to action by Mr. Stankey's promotion, according to people familiar with the matter. AT&T earlier this month said Mr. Stankey would take the No. 2 job under Mr. Stephenson while keeping his title as CEO of the Time Warner business, a collection of film and TV assets since renamed WarnerMedia.

--Joe Flint contributed to this article.


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

September 17, 2019 08:57 ET (12:57 GMT)

Copyright (c) 2019 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

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