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GTE Shareholders OK Bell Atlantic Deal

May 19, 1999|Jennifer Oldham

Moving a step closer to creating the nation's largest phone company, GTE Corp. shareholders approved the company's proposed $82.8-billion acquisition by Bell Atlantic Corp. At GTE's annual meeting in Atlanta, investors representing 76% of its outstanding shares voted in favor of the transaction--more than the two-thirds needed for approval. "These very strong votes indicate that our shareholders resoundingly gave us a vote of confidence," said Charles Lee, GTE chairman and chief executive in a conference call after the vote. "This is pro-competitive and pro-consumer, and creates a new company that will be in a position to compete head-on with other mega-global players being created." In addition to approval from Bell Atlantic shareholders--who will vote today--the companies still need the green light from the Federal Communications Commission and from regulators in 12 states. The California Public Utilities Commission is reviewing the combination and will have hearings in San Francisco in July. the transaction won antitrust clearance from the Justice Department earlier this month after the companies agreed to sell wireless operations in 65 local markets, in one of the largest such divestitures ever required of a merger.

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