Joele Frank, Brunswick aid wireless deal

ATLANTA: Two PR M&A shops were tapped to handle the communications in last week's wireless phone mega-merger.

ATLANTA: Two PR M&A shops were tapped to handle the communications in last week's wireless phone mega-merger.

In negotiating the media thicket posed by what would be the largest all-cash corporate acquisition in history, Cingular turned to the Brunswick Group for support during its eleventh-hour acquisition of AT&T Wireless, which, in turn, worked with Joele Frank, Wilkinson Brimmer Katcher.

Both Brunswick and Joele Frank declined to comment on the matter.

Cingular's VP for PR Tim Klein said the communications effort involved coordination between Cingular, its parent companies, SBC and Bell South, and Brunswick. The PR team had to deal with intense media speculation leading up to the deal, which was announced early last Tuesday morning hot on the heels of a late-night agreement between the companies. The most exaggerated example of the speed with which the deal changed shape was the appearance of a New York Times headline that morning saying that Vodafone was the favored buyer after Cingular made the announcement.

"The reason the PR job is tough is that you're dealing with a barrage of almost hourly speculation about what's going happen," Klein said. "There are literally dozens of rumors out there on a daily basis. If you multiply the number of rumors by the number of times the actual facts changed, you end up dealing with hundreds of pieces of information every day."

If approved by regulators, the $41 billion proposed deal would create the nation's largest cell phone company, with 46 million customers. It also would reduce the competitive field to five major players, including Verizon Wireless and Sprint PCS.

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