AT&T Corp. senior executive vice president and chief
financial officer Daniel Somers has been a rising star at the company, but until he
assumed the position of interim head of operations for AT&T Broadband & Internet
Services, he had been a relative unknown in the cable industry.
"He's the CFO of AT&T, that's all I
know," said one AT&T watcher who asked not to be named.
But although some may characterize Somers as a bean
counter, he does have a wealth of cable experience, and he has even presided over some
contentious negotiations in the industry.
Before coming to AT&T two years ago, Somers was
chairman of Bell Cablemedia plc, the United Kingdom cable operation of Bell Canada Inc.
Somers was one of the architects behind the deal that
combined Bell Cablemedia with other British cable interests to create London's
largest cable provider, Cable & Wireless Communications plc.
Somers was also the man behind Bell Canada International
Inc.'s $260 million investment in Jones Intercable Inc.
While that deal ran into some major problems -- Jones and
Bell Canada executives were constantly clashing -- Somers left that position relatively
According to some former Jones executives who asked not to
be named, the wounds inflicted by Bell Canada have been slow to heal. But although the
problems ultimately ended up in litigation -- for which Somers testified in court on
behalf of his former employer -- there is little bitterness directed at the current
At the root of the problems between the two companies was
Bell Canada's insistence on blocking virtually every deal Jones wanted to do,
including creating its own Jones Internet Channel, which led to the litigation.
Bell Canada also blocked Jones from purchasing a
200,000-subscriber system in Montgomery County, Md., from SBC Communications Inc., which
would have helped Jones to lock up the Washington, D.C., market.
"It really was [BCI chairman] Derek Burney who was the
instigator," one former Jones executive said. "Dan was the good soldier."
Somers also has experience running cable systems, which
should come in handy in his job as interim head of AT&T Broadband.
"He was the wheeler-dealer on the [BCI] corporate
side," the former Jones executive said. "Dan's got a great business acumen.
He's almost been Zelig-like in his career."