Ivan Seidenberg Announces Increase in Bell Atlantic's Use of Minority Financial Services Firms

Chairman and CEO Says Corporation Has "Made Good" on its Promise and Plans to do Even More

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NEW YORK - Bell Atlantic in the past year has significantly increased the number of minority-owned or operated financial services firms that the corporation uses, and it plans to do even more this year, Ivan Seidenberg, Bell Atlantic chairman and chief executive officer, said today at the Rainbow/PUSH Wall Street Conference here.

Seidenberg said that minority firms now provide a broad array of financial services to Bell Atlantic, including pension fund investment management, commercial paper placement and bond underwriting. In addition, a minority firm soon will begin handling up to 25 percent of the company's stock repurchase activity, he said.

"That's just the beginning," Seidenberg said in remarks prepared for delivery at the third annual Rainbow/PUSH Conference. "We're dedicated to involving even more minority businesses as auditors, bankers, investment managers and brokers."

Seidenberg noted that at last year's conference Bell Atlantic had promised to help minority firms "reap the rewards that come with managing millions of corporate pension fund dollars" and by supplying other financial services.

"Today, we can say we've made good on that promise," he said.

Bell Atlantic has taken the following steps to increase the number of minority financial firms that provide services to the corporation:

  • Selected Williams Capital, a minority firm based in New York, which placed over $250 million of Bell Atlantic's commercial paper.
  • Selected Williams and another minority firm, Utendahl Capital of New York, which underwrote over $60 million in Bell Atlantic bonds.
  • Committed $70 million in Bell Atlantic pension assets to private equity funds managed by minority firms.
  • Selected the May Davis Group of New York and Baltimore to handle up to 25 percent of Bell Atlantic's stock purchases in the near future - a total of two million to four million shares a year.
  • Selected six minority firms to administer a $50 million Discovery Fund, which invests Bell Atlantic pension assets in stocks and bonds. Bell Atlantic announced the creation of the fund at last year's Rainbow/PUSH conference.

Seidenberg said there are two advantages to investing in minority- managed private equity funds, which provide venture and growth capital to businesses. In addition to providing a good rate of return, the funds "often provide seed money for minority start-ups and help mid-sized minority companies expand into national and global markets," he said.

"In short, these funds help provide the 'money mud' -- the term used by the Rev. Jackson to describe venture capital - to help nurture and grow Hispanic, Asian, African-American and other minority businesses to new heights," Seidenberg said.

Bell Atlantic is at the forefront of the new communications and information industry. With more than 43 million telephone access lines and more than 10 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 23 countries.

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