AT&T has started clearing a path to give Comcast what it wants, in part by looking to sell the parts of the company Comcast doesn't want to go to BellSouth.
Industry executives confirmed a report in Business Week saying that AT&T has approached the
Baby Bell - once an AT&T subsidiary - about a merger in which BellSouth would buy AT&T's long-distance and business telephone operations.
AT&T's cable systems would be separated and sold to the highest bidder.
Comcast has the only bid on the table, though AT&T
is trying to coax Cox Communcations and AOL Time Warner into bidding the
Comcast's stock swap bid is currently worth around $50 billion.
The proposals were made at AT&T's board meeting last week, giving
nicknames to possible players, "Eagles" to Philadelphia-based Comcast, "Falcons"
to Atlanta-based Cox; and "Seahawks" to suburban Seattle-based Microsoft.
A scheme involving Atlanta-based BellSouth was, for some reason, labeled "Brazil".
The telco also moved to open formal negotiations with
Comcast by asking the MSO to sign a confidentiality agreement with vastly more relaxed terms than the one Comcast has been refuting for weeks.
AT&T dropped a clause that would have prohibited Comcast from discussing a joint bid with any other company. - John M. Higgins