AT&T, Bell South Downplay Delisting Notice

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According to a source at a New York Stock Exchange member company, the exchange released a delisting notice to member companies Thursday morning indicating that the merger of AT&T and Bell South could close Friday. Spokesmen for both companies were downplaying the notice, saying that they did not ask for it and that "nothing's happening."

A second notice was sent soon after, amending the first to say the merger would close Dec. 22 "at the earliest," rather than it "would close," and adding the caveat: "subject to FCC approval."

The Exchange usually sends out such notices after being contacted by company executives, according to the source. In the stock-for-stock deal, Bell South's ticker symbol will have to be delisted once it is approved, but both companies said they didn't ask the notice be sent.

The Exchange has given similar notice at least a couple of times before back in October, when the FCC scheduled, then cancelled, votes on the merger. The Justice Department has finished reviewing the deal and concluded it raised no antitrust flags.

A Bell South spokesman said there was nothing to announce, seconded by an AT&T spokesman.

The FCC had no comment, but FCC Chairman Kevin Martin said Wednesday that he didn't think the merger could be done by the end of the year, though he was hopeful for early next year.

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