March 20, 1997 6:15 PM ET
Bell Atlantic, Nynex merger completion delayed
By Maria Seminerio

  Telecommunications giants Bell Atlantic Corp. and Nynex Corp. had expected to finalize their merger next month, but a review of the proposed deal by the U.S. Department of Justice and the Federal Communications Commission will not be completed by then, officials of the companies said today.

However, the New York State Public Service Commission, which was also reviewing the pact proposed on April 22, 1996, today voted to approve the merger, Bell Atlantic and Nynex officials said.

"We remain confident that the merger is in the best interest of consumers and urge the Department of Justice and the FCC to act expeditiously," the companies said in a joint statement. There was no word on when the reviews are expected to be completed, Bell Atlantic and Nynex officials said.

The deal, described as a "merger of equals," would create a joint entity with a market value exceeding $50 billion. The combined company would employ more than 130,000 workers and provide telecommunications services to 26 million customers in 13 Northeastern states, operating under the Bell Atlantic name.

The joint company could face competition in the local telephone service market from another proposed joint entity: the global telecommunications company Concert, to be formed with the completion of British Telecommunications' takeover of MCI Communications Corp., announced on Nov. 3 last year.

BT agreed to pay $20.3 billion for MCI in the largest takeover in history of a U.S. company by a foreign company. Officials said when the deal was proposed that they hoped to move Concert into the local service space.

Bell Atlantic is based in Philadelphia, and Nynex is headquartered in New York.

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