Now that AT&T Corp. has won the battle for MediaOne
Group Inc., many employees at the Englewood, Colo.-based MSO feel like they are in limbo,
waiting for the proverbial other shoe to drop with the announcement of layoffs.
AT&T has been mum about plans to reduce the work force
at MediaOne, and it is still very early in the deal. But speculation is beginning to run
through the MediaOne campus about what may be in store once the merger is closed, which is
slated for the end of the year.
Sources inside MediaOne said AT&T plans to offer the
same exit package that was previously offered by Comcast Corp. -- nine months of salary
and benefits. In addition, employee stock options will vest at the closing of the deal,
softening the blow somewhat for those who are let go.
But the lack of information has some MediaOne employees a
little nervous. "With Comcast, they told us 5 percent of the work force would be
gone, and we were all moving to Philadelphia," one source familiar with the company
said. "There were a lot of things upfront that we knew. Now, it's just absolute
Speculation is that the layoffs at MediaOne, especially in
Colorado, could be considerably larger than 5 percent.
"[AT&T Broadband & Internet Services] runs 10
million subscribers with 350 people; MediaOne runs 5 million subscribers with 1,100
people," said one source who asked not to be named. "[MediaOne] is quite a
"It's really too early to say," AT&T
Broadband spokeswoman LaRae Marsik said. "Obviously, we've got a lot of
employees in certain markets, and we have a gargantuan task in front of us to launch
telephone service. It's too premature to make any speculation on staffing
It is pretty much a given on Wall Street that many MediaOne
senior managers -- especially chairman Chuck Lillis, president Jan Peters and chief
financial officer Richard Post -- will seek other jobs. But what will happen to
lower-level management at the corporate and regional levels is still up in the air.
The MediaOne source, who requested anonymity, said many
company staffers are just waiting to see what happens after the deal closes -- which is
when their stock options vest -- to decide whether to look for another job.
And then there's the Amos Hostetter factor. Hostetter
-- former chairman of MediaOne predecessor Continental Cablevision Inc. and
MediaOne's largest shareholder -- will rejoin the company once the merger is complete
as nonexecutive vice chairman.
Hostetter -- who left MediaOne in a huff in 1997, mainly
because then-U S West Media Group management reneged on a promise to keep the company
headquartered in Boston -- will play a role in staffing decisions. And that has some
MediaOne managers shaking in their boots.
"Amos has made it clear in the past that he was none
too happy with the way things were handled here," the source said. "You've
got to think anybody who was not part of the Continental crew -- and that is most
everybody here -- would be a little nervous."
On the other hand, Hostetter could try to rehire some
former senior Continental executives who left MediaOne because they didn't want to