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Verizon To Acquire MCI For $6.7 Billion 282

Posted by timothy
from the shifting-sands-of-time dept.
An anonymous reader submits "Even after a last minute offer from Qwest Communications, MCI board members accepted a less lucrative offer from Verizon to be bought for $6.7 billion in cash, stock and dividends. The acquisition comes after Nextel Communications and Sprint Corp. partnered up in a $35 billion deal and SBC Communications Inc. and AT&T Corp. announced a $16 billion merger plan. So, what's next for the telecom industry?"
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Verizon To Acquire MCI For $6.7 Billion

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  • Merger Madness (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dsginter (104154)
    Sprint to aquire Nextel, SBC to Aquire AT&T, Verizon to aquire MCI.

    Take a freakin' breather already. All in the name of screwing the consumer over, I'd bet.
    • Re:Merger Madness (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cyngus (753668) on Monday February 14, 2005 @04:03PM (#11671667)
      Take a freakin' breather already.

      It's called capitalism, and there's no time for that. Say what you will about capitalism, but it is almost the sole reason that the standard of living has risen so much in many countries over the last three centuries or so. This wave on consolidation has long been predicted, and its probably a good thing. Otherwise the telecom industry would end up fragmented and mostly bankrupty, much like today's airline industry.

      All in the name of screwing the consumer over, I'd bet.

      All in the name of surviving is more like it. These acquisitions should produce one or more of two things.
      1) Lower costs for the companies involved, resulting in higher profits and better returns for the companies owners (largely public shareholders).
      2) Lower costs or better services for their customers.
      It is likely to be a combination of the two. This assumes, of course, that Verizon does the merger well, and that they did their due diligence to make sure this was a good idea in the first place. At the end of the day, remember that you can choose not to be a customer of any company, except, perhaps, those that are monopolies.
      • Of course, there's that little thing called the Industrial Revolution that also helped...
        • Re:Merger Madness (Score:3, Insightful)

          by cyngus (753668)
          The Industrial Revolution and modern capitalism are intimately related. Without a more or less capitalist system the Industrial Revolution would not have happened or at the very least its effects would have been far less profound. Without the Industrial Revolution capitalism's power would not have been fulled revealed. Capitalism is ideally suited to mass production and industries that require large initial investment such as those that require factories.
      • For a business to survive in the long term, revenue fro providing a good/service must eceed the costs of providing that good/service. There's no guarantee that consolidation will bring better prices or service - in fact, it's quite likely that price will go up, or service will go down, until money in > money out for each business.

        That may sound bad, but the alternative is the businesses go bankrupt and the good/service isn't provided at all.

        The one thing the consumer might get out of this is better se
      • Re:Merger Madness (Score:3, Interesting)

        by diamondsw (685967)
        Yes, M&A worked out so very well for HP/Compaq and AOL/Time Warner. We've certainly seen increased value and efficiency there.

        Given MCI's state, I'll agree this is probably a good thing, but please remember that unfettered capitalism is also the source of a lot of evil. Capitalism is ultimately powered by greed (of one form or another), which has led to labor abuses, environmental destruction, and wholesale fraud as we've seen in the last few years.

        Capitalism works best because it seems to work with t
      • Re:Merger Madness (Score:2, Interesting)

        by AndroidCat (229562)
        Otherwise the telecom industry would end up fragmented and mostly bankrupty, much like today's airline industry.

        One of the reasons that MCI/Worldcom ended up mostly bankrupt was the wave of aquisitions that they indulged in. They'd use the paper value of each aquisition to buy the next one. (With a little criminal accounting along the way.) The savings by operating in volume never materialized and they chopped technical staff to the bone, affecting service.

        • One of the reasons that MCI/Worldcom ended up mostly bankrupt was the wave of aquisitions that they indulged in.

          Its a fair amount more complex than that. I would say that poor judgement in making the acquisitions, not the act of acquiring itself, was the problem. Further the pace of acquisition was too fast for one company. Finally, partially because of the previous reason, adequate integration of the acquired assets didn't happen, resulting in cost savings not being realized. The consolidation we're
      • A better way... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by quandrum (652868) on Monday February 14, 2005 @04:54PM (#11672198)

        Say what you will about capitalism, but it is almost the sole reason that the standard of living has risen so much in many countries over the last three centuries or so.

        There is no finer systerm for taking a society from an agrain to a post-industrial culture. However, I think most of the ills we are suffering these days arise from capitalism. Whether it's corporate conservatism (RIAA, DMCA, etc), monopoly and consolidation (Microsoft, mergers), or the rollarcoaster ride that is our economy (How many of you went poor ->millionaire->poor in a a year or two? How many of you have houses that have inflated 400% in the last year or two, and will likely loose all that and more in the next couple?), captalism is failing us every day.

        I'm sure the European Aristocracy that the cultural and industrial revolutions of 1700's replaced were congratulating themselves how much they had improved their standard of living over the old days. But they couldn't see outside the limits of their (*gasp*) class, or how their own system had become rotten and evil. It's funny how despite what High School history teachers tell you, learning history never stops us from repeating it. Life is shifty and will disguise itself. Maybe it's time to revolt again.

      • Re:Merger Madness (Score:3, Informative)

        by M_Hulot (859406)
        It's called capitalism, and there's no time for that. This wave on consolidation has long been predicted, and its probably a good thing. In economics, as in most everything, we need to look at the evidence before having opinions. Time and time again economic studies show that mergers help neither the customers or the shareholders. http://www.globalchange.com/mergers.htm [globalchange.com]
      • Re:Merger Madness (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Grishnakh (216268)
        All in the name of surviving is more like it. These acquisitions should produce one or more of two things.
        1) Lower costs for the companies involved, resulting in higher profits and better returns for the companies owners (largely public shareholders).
        2) Lower costs or better services for their customers.


        This sounds great in theory, but I for one have never seen it in practice. How's HP/Compaq doing these days?

        This wave on consolidation has long been predicted, and its probably a good thing. Otherwise t
      • Re:Merger Madness (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        Lower costs or better services for their customers

        Apparently, you don't understand capitalism as much as you claim to. The concept of the "invisible hand" rests upon the existence of open competition. As cartel members start acquiring one another, this open competition vanishes, and the result is a controlled market (That is to say, lower quality and higher prices to consumers).

        But don't take my word for it, listen to the founder of American capitalism, Adam Smith [amazon.com]
    • "All in the name of screwing the consumer over, I'd bet."

      Actually it is more likely in the name of reducing staffing. When I used to work for a telco I remember complaints about cutomers that we would like to give to our competition. At three cents a minute, people who do not make many long distance calls are actually a losing proposition for carriers. It costs more to send them a bill than they make off the account.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:23PM (#11671184)
    and in the darkness connect them

  • by DJStealth (103231) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:25PM (#11671198)
    In Canada we had the following:

    Telus purchased Clearnet
    Rogers & Shaw swap regions so they each have cable monopoly in their region.
    Rogers purchased Fido
  • Because the first one would have been a bit difficult [findlaw.com] given the way the books were being cooked at the time (of course MCI was called "WorldCom" back then, but hey, change thy name and stay shiny).

    Interesting.

  • What's next... (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 1000101 (584896)

    "So, what's next for the telecom industry?"

    More crappy support and dropped calls?
  • by alexwcovington (855979) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:28PM (#11671236) Journal
    The hot new board game from Parker Brothers hits the shelves: Telecom MONOPOLY
    • The hot new board game from Parker Brothers hits the shelves: Telecom MONOPOLY

      You'll receive a copy of the game next month, with a mandated $5.99 monthly fee. To opt-out, please send a written letter stating your request. We will handle your request in 60-90 days.
  • Great (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:28PM (#11671244)
    * SBC owns AT&T
    * Verizon owns MCI

    After the baby bells were broken up, we had this very nice period where briefly, though you may not have had a choice of local phone providers, you had a real and serious choice of long-distance phone providers. Anyone else suspect this era is about to end? I think we're about to quickly go to the point where your regional local-phone monopoly quickly becomes a regional long-distance phone monopoly.

    Who wants to take bets on how many SBC customers will be using MCI in five years, or how many Verizon customers will be using AT&T?
    • The End Of Telcos (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WombatControl (74685) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:35PM (#11671341)

      If that happens, the telcos will have screwed themselves.



      Why bother with a high-price telco with crappy services when you can get Vonage or Skype or any number of IP-based carriers that will be able to provide the same service cheaper and faster than traditional telcos.



      You tend to see consolidation in dying industries - POTS is becoming a dying industry. Once VOIP starts really hitting the mainstream, that line of revenue will only continue to dry up.



      Right now the money is in cellular service (where there's usually at least one local/regional company competing with the big boys - or at least there has been in my experience), and in VOIP. Either the telcos adapt or die.



      As we've learned from both the dinosaurs and AOL/TimeWarner, sometimes being big and complex isn't a good thing from an evolutionary standpoint.

    • Who wants to take bets on how many SBC customers will be using MCI in five years, or how many Verizon customers will be using AT&T?

      At the rate we're going, all of them, because Verizon will also have taken over SBC (or vice-versa).
    • I think we're about to quickly go to the point where your regional local-phone monopoly quickly becomes a regional long-distance phone monopoly.

      Or you could do like I (and many others) do, and simply cancel the local land line. It was a psycological hurdle to overcome, as it can be a bit scary that you no longer have a "home phone."

      However, it got to the point where all the outgoing calls we were making were "long distance" (because of cell phones with numbers from college area codes), and to do that

  • What's next? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Telastyn (206146)
    Crap.

    Followed by the big names getting into IP telephony, and promptly turning that into crap.
  • From what I've seen out of qwest here in the west, verizon is a better company. Lesser of two evils I suppose.
  • "Cingular, Verizon, and Qwest merge...It's Ma Bell all over again"
    • by Waffle Iron (339739) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:38PM (#11671371)
      Cingular, Verizon, and Qwest merge

      The three were about to merge, but their plans were thwarted when it was discovered that the world's supply of stupid committee-selected synthetic corporate names has finally been exhausted, so there would be no way to refer to the new conglomerate.

  • What's next? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Moryath (553296) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:29PM (#11671261)
    After two more rounds of mergers, we'll have two companies left in each area. Each with strict but unwritten agreements not to compete in each others' areas. It's the same way Comcast/Time Warner do business in the Cable TV industry right now, anyways.
    • Cable is governed by franchises given out by the different governments. Each city, county gives out the franchise so that they can do their oversight duties. (And they can force a company to cover the complete area not just the lucrative parts of a jurisdiction. This is all do to the large cost of the infrastructure to wire every neighborhood. There will only be two company's competing - one "telephone" company and one "cable" company. And of course, you may also have other providers like satellite, ce
      • Comcast and Warner today operate under "gentleman's agreements" not to enter each other's territories, thus granting themselves monopolies and the ability to price-gouge where they currently are.

        And no, no county does "franchises" for cable. Look at Milwaukee for a good example of how it USED to work - prior to the death of Viacom cable, there were two COMPETING cable companies in that county. The only reason no other cable company's come by since is that TW threatens to go into their existing counties and

        • And no, no county does "franchises" for cable. Look at Milwaukee for a good example of how it USED to work - prior to the death of Viacom cable, there were two COMPETING cable companies in that county. The only reason no other cable company's come by since is that TW threatens to go into their existing counties and deliberately undercut their prices, running at a loss till they drive the competition out of business.

          The system he describes is the way it works where I'm at. It may not be that way everywh

        • Damn near everywhere, there is a franchise granted by the city or county to a cable company. This is the one small way that government has the cable companies over a barrel. They've been able to force the operators to cover rural areas that way, and occasionally, when a municipality or county gets really irritated, they won't renew the franchise.

          The "gentleman's agreements" you mention, which all of the MSOs will deny to avoid the Sherman act, mean that nobody else will bid for the franchise, so the city/c
  • I predict (Score:4, Funny)

    by beegle (9689) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:30PM (#11671268) Homepage
    ...that eventually, all of the US telecom companies will merge back into one. That single, surviving company will be known as "The Bell System" or, colloquially as "Ma Bell".

    You heard it here first.
  • Question (Score:3, Insightful)

    by KoriaDesevis (781774) <koriadesevis@@@yahoo...com> on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:30PM (#11671270) Journal

    Verizon is what used to be GTE and Bell Atlantic. With MCI in the fold, does this allow them to be a national phone company that can be a local carrier coast to coast, like Bell used to be in the 70's? I am suspecting not, but it's worth asking.

    I know MCI is not a local phone company (at least they weren't when I had them as my long distance carrier), but that would make Verizon huge (even more so than they are now).

    • I know MCI is not a local phone company (at least they weren't when I had them as my long distance carrier), but that would make Verizon huge (even more so than they are now).

      MCI is more than just a "phone" company... they own a major chunk of the internet backbone. Nobody pays $6.7B for a midsized phone company. I wonder if Verizon really cares about the long distance phone company aspect? What they are after are the massive pipes over which they can now send data at less cost, and now charge others to
    • >>Verizon is what used to be GTE and Bell Atlantic

      No, it's what used to be Nynex (New England + NY) & Bell Atlantic (Mid-Atlantic). They may have picked up some of the GTE service areas in that region, but it's basically the merger of those two RBOCs.

      Lessee, seven RBOCS down to four: Nynex + Bell Atlantic -> Verizon (plus MCI), SWBell + PacBell + Ameritech + SNET -> SBC (plus AT&T), USWest + Qwest -> Qwest, Bellsouth stands alone. They're the only one of the Seven Sisters that has
      • You seem to be confused. When the RBOC's were broken up, PacBell was part of Pacific Telesis (along with Nevada Bell), and SNET was independant. Verizon does indeed own GTE [gte.com]. Accurate information here [nebs-faq.com].
  • by cavemanf16 (303184) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:30PM (#11671274) Homepage Journal
    What's next?!? The same thing we do every night, Pinky. try to Take OVer THE WORLD!
  • by Tackhead (54550) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:33PM (#11671312)
    I beg of you, don't say goodbye!
    Don't wanna use no MCI!
    Reach out and touch some other fool,
    'Cause breakin' up is hard on you!

    They say that breakin' up was hard to do,
    When Carly put the screws to you,
    Spun off Lucent and then,
    Includin' breakin' up she also buggered HPQ and then...

    AT&T gave back the phone!
    And now we'll lease, no more to own,
    Reach out and touch some other fool,
    'Cause breakin' up was hard on you.

    (With apologies to the original 1984 Breakin' up is hard on you parody from the American Comedy Network.)

  • by jaylee7877 (665673) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:33PM (#11671315) Homepage
    MCI is currently the largest ISP allowing (and some consider supporting) spammers to use their bandwidth. Verizon is currently one of the most aggressive anti-spam ISPs. Some have argued they've gone to far blocking legit messages often but most of their users are happy about the spam control. How these two will mesh may be a very interesting chapter in the war on Spam.
  • Pac bell aquires SBC who aquires ATT who aquires cingular who aquires Sprint who aquires nextel who aquires Verizon who aquires MCI who aquires vonage.

    Bell labs quires pac bell.

    Ma Bell rises like the phoenix from the ashes to dominion all feeble earthly communications

    Skynet is brought online.

    Anti-Monopoly Trust Busters Break up Ma Bell into baby bells

    Lather
    Wash
    Rinse
    Repeat

    Mua ha ha ha hh ah aha ha a ha ha aha hha ha ah

  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by rewt66 (738525)
    Why would a board approve a purchase for less money than a competing offer?

    Under-the-table payments to board members is the only plausible reason that comes to mind. Are there other explanations?

    Whatever the explanation is, I have a hard time seeing how "increasing shareholder value" comes in to it...

    • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Tenebrious1 (530949) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:47PM (#11671485) Homepage
      Why would a board approve a purchase for less money than a competing offer? Under-the-table payments to board members is the only plausible reason that comes to mind. Are there other explanations? Whatever the explanation is, I have a hard time seeing how "increasing shareholder value" comes in to it...

      One of the things they look at is their own security; is the new company going to purge the board and replace them? Another is what they plan to do with the company; are they going to gut it and sell off the parts, making your options worthless? There's a lot more to a deal than just stock price. Maybe the board just doesn't like the attitude of the higher bidder. Money isn't *always* everything.

    • Qwest is on shaky financial ground. Verizon is not. In a mostly stock deal, one needs to think about future value, especially if one is a large, institutional investor.
      • Re:Why? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by DaFork (608023) on Monday February 14, 2005 @04:04PM (#11671690)
        There is another reason.

        MCI's largest cost is line cost (the cost of leasing lines from other carriers) and Verizon needs a data network. After the merger, MCI does not have to pay line costs to Verizon anymore and Verizon gets a data network. It's a win-win for both companies.
    • by mckwant (65143)
      In buyouts like this, there are any number of things to consider:

      - debt load
      - payout schedule
      - amount financed through new debt (junk bonds used to be a common component)
      - ongoing ability of the buyer to actually pay

      and so on. Have a look at the excellent "Barbarians at the Gate" (isbn: 0060536357) to get a feel for what happens. That was an extreme case (RJR/Nabisco), but it brings up a lot of the variables involved.
    • Re:Why? (Score:3, Informative)

      by odin53 (207172)
      Why would a board approve a purchase for less money than a competing offer?

      Depends on several things. You're alluding to "Revlon duties", which are imposed by Delaware law and require the board of a company that's on the auction block to get the highest possible short-term shareholder value in the sale.

      For one, it depends on the governing law and the structure of the deal. Revlon duties are part of Delaware corporate law; many states have "constituency" laws that affirmatively do not impose Revlon-type
  • by AnalogDiehard (199128) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:39PM (#11671379)
    So, what's next for the telecom industry?

    How about we give the spammers the boot? [slashdot.org]

  • Next step (Score:5, Funny)

    by srhuston (161786) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:40PM (#11671392) Homepage Journal
    Well, now that a few of them have merged, they'll probably stabilize for a little while, and then start buying each other up again. Pretty soon, we'll be down to one company providing phone service.

    Hey, wasn't there talk of TV over phone too? Maybe once all the companies merge, they could call themselves... American Telephone and Television? Or just AT&T for short. That has a nice ring to it. Ring! That's it, they can use a bell as their company logo! People can buy stock in it, and refer to "My Bell" phone company.
    • Re:One company (Score:3, Insightful)

      by symbolic (11752)

      What's interesting about all of these acquisitions is that yes, in the short term, it may reduce some degree of choice we once had as consumers. But bear in mind, that just as old, crusty, entrenched companies can be laid to rest by merging with other old, crusty, entrenched companies, there is always room for new competitors. Simply put, the monopolies resulting from these acquisitions still need to stay on their toes, lest the carpet be yanked out from under them by newer, leaner, more innovative, more ag
  • So, what's next for the telecom industry?

    Panic. Followed by voip regulations by "our" "elected" representatives, which effectively will make more and more of us law breakers.
  • " So what's next for the telecom industry? "

    Well, let's ask the black box that supposedly generates random numbers to predict the future [slashdot.org]. I kid you not. Two days ago, Slashdot offered a serious news article about some scientists believing that a random number generator can predict the future [slashdot.org]. If the current merger of Verizon and MCI will cause a calamity in the American economy, the black box should be able to tell us.

    (Tongue FIRMLY PLANTED in cheek.)

    • In the case a better predictor of the future is to look at past performance; the past performance of Michael Capellas. This guy turned Compaq around and sold it. He turned MCI around and sold it. Michael's the reliable predictor here, not the random number generator.
  • Eventual consolidation back into one monopoly. I swear eventually we're going to have one telecom company, one bank, one insurance company, one supermarket, etc.
  • Figures... (Score:5, Informative)

    by hollismb (817357) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:48PM (#11671493) Homepage
    The simple fact is, that long distance companies are a dying breed. Sure, plenty of people still have long distance, but more and more people are getting wise to the fact that you can simply use your cellphone to make a long distance call. Of course these companies are going to get bought out while they're still profitable. This coming off the heels of a year when wireless surpassed wireline in terms of customer base, and during a year when it's predicted the wireless minute usage will surpass wired minute useage.
  • Is it actually coming back to this? [jt.org]


    Although funny, I guess their was some truth to it. But the real question comes to whether this is good for the telecom industry or not. I guess so in ways, but I think that only time will tell. It is kind of sad to see what used to be the biggest names in telecom bought out, and possibly destroyed, especailly stuff like this. [slashdot.org]
  • by TheLoneGundam (615596) on Monday February 14, 2005 @03:50PM (#11671522) Journal
    The DeathStar was broken up into little pieces, but apparently the dark side of the Force is bringing them back together. Admiral Vonage and General Skype will lead the rebel alliance Help us, Obi-For-Wan-Wan, you're our only hope!
  • With only 3 regional companies left, there's going to be significant pressure to reduce that to 2, since it's far easier to hold a virtual monopoly when you only have 1 competitor to deal with. Look for Qwest, the smallest company right now, to be the victim and swallowed up by one of the others, probably SBC. I doubt we'll see 2 become 1 in the short-term though, since the burden of proof on the survivors that it's acceptable for them to be 1 company is going to be too high. In the long term however, if Vo
  • first law of telecom mergers, pricing, projects, whatever...
  • by foghorn666 (321706) on Monday February 14, 2005 @04:01PM (#11671635)
    I'm surprised at the knee-jerk alarm about this merger. Do you people really think that this is going to lead to monopoly?

    Hardly. For one thing, there are still a ton of telecom providers out there... it'll be Verizon, AT&T, BellSouth, Qwest, and two dozen smaller regional carriers. All these mergers have accomplished is the undoing of the ill-considered 1986 telecom act, which said you couldn't do both long-distance and local telephony. Now the big guys do both.

    But more importantly, there's more competition than ever before in the industry because of emerging technologies and the net. Voice over IP providers --including pure-play guys like Vonage, as well as all the cable companies-- are starting to compete with the phone companies. So AT&T and Verizon are going to have to stay competitively priced in order to keep from losing customers to those services.

    And have you ever heard of cell phones? The wireline carriers can't crank up costs, because they're already losing people to their mobiles.

    Not that it matters, but I'm a liberal and usually object to any conglomeration of corporate power. But it's silly to instantly panic at any sort of merger and assume it's a nightmare.

    All these companies are doing is trying to stay alive in the face of killer new technology. The only people screwed here are the carriers themselves.
  • by Jedi Holocron (225191) on Monday February 14, 2005 @04:01PM (#11671638) Homepage Journal
    A: Cthulhu reforms 15 minutes later, except now Cthulhu is radioactive.

    Q: So, what's next for the telecom industry?
    A: It reforms 25 years later into Ma Bell, except now it controls everything.

  • I've had bad experiences with both companies. I'm glad to see them come together so they can die a slow and painful death.
  • AT&T (Score:3, Informative)

    by mr_zorg (259994) on Monday February 14, 2005 @04:19PM (#11671847)
    And in other news, Sprint-Nextel, SBC-AT&T and MCI-Verizon signed a merger agreement today in a move to stave off competition and put an end the mega-mergers of late in the telecomm industry. The companies have issued a joint press-release indicating that the new company will be known as AT&T.

    Hmm. Back to square one. Oh well.
  • ...having to only pay one bill in the future, rather than 5 IS attractive...
  • A large number of MCI shareholders are very angry with this deal. It is possible that the deal will not get shareholder approval.
  • by Stanistani (808333) on Monday February 14, 2005 @04:45PM (#11672111) Homepage Journal
    It's finally time to replace that obsolescent breep-breep ringing noise on the handsets with the throaty screech of Godzilla.
  • by np_bernstein (453840) on Monday February 14, 2005 @06:00PM (#11672868) Homepage
    ::Sigh::

    Good thing we broke up MA-Bell so we wouldn't have one company monopolising the entire phone system. Thank god we were smart enough to not break them up into smaller monopolies that ran different parts of the country and could get enough to buy up each other and eventually reform Brother-Bell, and Sister-Bell, which marginally compete. ::sigh::

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