AT&T/Comcast marriage OK’d

Union of cable systems on course to close fourth quarter

Shareholders of both companies on Wednesday approved the planned $53 billion stock-and-debt merger of No. 1 U.S. cabler AT&T Broadband and No. 3 Comcast.

Approval at Comcast’s shareholders meeting in Philadelphia was something of a formality, with Comcast chief Brian Roberts controlling 87% of the votes. But the OK means the merger to create the nation’s biggest cable systems company is on course for a fourth-quarter closing.

The AT&T vote, announced at the telecom giant’s annual meeting in Charleston, S.C., was part of a wide-ranging restructuring plan approved by shareholders. AT&T directors agreed in December to merge telecom’s huge cable holdings with those of Comcast, with various other moves skedded to split the corporate behemoth into smaller, more manageable parts.

Philly HQ

The new cable company — to be headquartered in Philadelphia, with additional exec offices in New York –will boast 22.1 million customers after combining AT&T’s 13.7 million and Comcast’s 8.4 million.

“I’m pleased to announce today that we have taken a major step forward towards the creation of this new company,” Roberts said.

Roberts will serve as CEO of the new company, dubbed AT&T Comcast Corp. AT&T chairman C. Michael Armstrong will move from his current post to chairing a 12-member board of the new company.

Waiting for the feds

AT&T shareholders previously approved the company’s split into smaller parts, including the spinoff of its cable operations. Merger now awaits final approval from the Justice Dept. and FCC.

Also Wednesday, Armstrong told AT&T shareholders that current prexy David Dorman is a “front-runner” to become the chief exec of AT&T and its core telephone ops after Armstrong ankles for AT&T Comcast.

Comcast shares were off 76¢ at $22.43 Wednesday, while AT&T shares were off 23¢ at $9.78.

A reverse one-for-five stock split –aimed at boosting the value of AT&T shares — was part of the restructuring plans approved by telecom shareholders Wednesday.

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