Bell, Nynex shares rise Report of renewed merger talk fuels gain

April 18, 1996|By Michael Dresser | Michael Dresser,SUN STAFF

Shares in Bell Atlantic Corp. and Nynex Corp. bucked the market's downward trend yesterday and posted solid gains after the two telephone companies were reported to have resumed serious merger talks.

Bell Atlantic's stock rose $1.625 to $61.875 and Nynex shares rose $2.25 to $53.625 even as the Dow Jones industrial average was dropping 70.09 points.

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Bell Atlantic might be able to announce as early as Monday that it would be acquiring Nynex, which serves New York and New England.

Spokesmen for the two companies declined to comment on the reports.

It was not clear how much the price increases were influenced by the merger talks report and how much they were affected by strong earnings reports in the telecommunications industry.

All but one of the seven regional Bell carriers posted stock gains yesterday. SBC Communications Corp., the former Southwestern Bell, gained 75 cents to $49.625 after reporting a 17 percent growth in first-quarter profits. Ameritech Corp. gained $1.125 a day after reporting higher-than-expected earnings.

Pacific Telesis Group, which has agreed to be acquired by SBC in a deal that gives Bell Atlantic and Nynex added incentive to merge, gained 75 cents to close at $33.75. Bell South gained $1 to close at $38. Only U S West, which is not regarded as an attractive merger candidate, lost ground. Its stock was off 25 cents at $31.625.

It has been an ill-kept secret that Bell Atlantic and Nynex have been involved in on-again, off-again merger talks since last year. The two companies have already merged their cellular subsidiaries into an entity with the unwieldy name of Bell Atlantic Nynex. The Journal reported that the negotiations were still hung up on the question of how to value Nynex but that the thorny succession issue of who would eventually succeed Bell Atlantic Chairman Raymond W. Smith had been decided in favor of Nynex Chairman Ivan Seidenberg.

Pub Date: 4/18/96

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