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ALBANY, N.Y.--In testimony here today before the New York State Public Service Commission, NYNEX Chairman Ivan Seidenberg said that NYNEX's proposed merger with Bell Atlantic will help lead New York State, its businesses and its consumers into the 21st Century.
"This merger is good for NYNEX customers in New York and for New York State itself," said Seidenberg, who addressed PSC commissioners as part of a regulatory proceeding to review the merger proposal.
Seidenberg added, "The merger will enhance NYNEX's service improvement efforts in New York. It will enable NYNEX to price competitively and to adhere to its universal service obligations. And it will make available financial and technical resources that will be used to develop new and innovative products and services -- and to bring them to market faster.
"Our agreement to maintain the headquarters of the newly merged corporation in this state will certainly enhance New York's image as the telecommunications capital of the world and can be expected to lure new jobs and new businesses to the state."
Seidenberg also addressed competitors' claims about the merger.
"We do not believe this proceeding should be used as an occasion to address issues that have been -- or should be -- resolved in other proceedings."
Seidenberg cited the company's Performance Regulation Plan, an agreement reached last year with the PSC that provides for seven years of basic rate freezes, other rate reductions totaling nearly $2 billion and service standards that get tougher year-over-year, backed by a guarantee of rebates.
"Our competitors are imposing rate increases on the backs of their small long-distance consumers in order to invest in a new array of services, including local exchange services," Seidenberg said. "It is ironic that while we have put in place decreases and freezes under the Performance Regulation Plan, parties in this proceeding have suggested that we also not be permitted to use synergy savings resulting from the merger to make competitive investments of our own."
At today's special en banc hearing in Albany, the commissioners, the commission's general counsel and the administrative law judge assigned to the case questioned witnesses for NYNEX, Bell Atlantic and the other parties in the case about the proposed merger. Questions were based on pre-filed testimony that had been submitted by the parties in the case, and public comments gathered during the course of 13 public statement hearings held throughout the state, Nov. 19-Dec. 11.
The proposed merger between NYNEX and Bell Atlantic was announced April 22.
The combined corporation will serve 39 million telephone access lines in 13 states and more than 4 million cellular customers. Shareowners of both companies overwhelmingly approved the merger at special meetings last month.
Of the seven states in the NYNEX territory, the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control voted unanimously to approve the merger on Nov. 20. Regulators in New York, Maine, Vermont and New Hampshire are conducting reviews of the merger in accordance with the laws applicable in those states. Two other NYNEX states -- Massachusetts and Rhode Island -- have not sought to assert jurisdiction over the proposed merger, although Massachusetts is reviewing the merger within the context of its general supervisory authority over telephone operations.
Reviews by all states are expected to be complete by early next year.