What They're
Saying

“…it’s the string of longtime Time Warner entertainment executives who’ve departed since AT&T acquired the media company for $109 billion last year that has some investors concerned—especially as the deal transformed AT&T into the most-indebted nonfinancial company in the world.”

– Gerry Smith, Bloomberg Businessweek

“A string of big M&A has left the media and entertainment giant unwieldy, inefficient and unfocused. It’s time an investor spoke up.”

– Tara Lachapelle, Bloomberg Opinion

“Brandishing a velvet-clad fist may therefore be a smart method. Elliott has even indirectly suggested an elegant way for Stephenson to give up power gradually, reminding the company that four in 10 investors recently voted to split his chair and CEO role.”

– Jennifer Saba, Breakingviews

“Elliott’s criticism has raised the question of what’s more important to running a media company: the physical assets that AT&T has acquired or the entertainment executives who left, taking with them decades of institutional knowledge and client relationships?”

– Gerry Smith, Bloomberg Businessweek

“What the company needs most is to move quickly to rationalize its offerings, cut costs and defend the revenues of its embattled entertainment properties. Whether the deal’s ‘strategic rationale’ was a particularly good one is likely to matter less in the years ahead than such basic blocking and tackling.”

– Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., The Wall Street Journal

“The letter that Mr Singer’s investment firm Elliott Management sent last week to AT&T’s board of directors couldn’t be truer.”

– Rana Foroohar, Financial Times

“Somebody has to crack the whip over the company’s messy efforts, and the hedge fund Elliott Management raised its hand this week for the job.”

– Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., The Wall Street Journal

“Time Warner was supposed to give AT&T a stream of content to pump through its huge cellular and pay-TV pipeline, complete with targeted ads. Investors aren’t so certain.”

– Gerry Smith, Bloomberg Businessweek

“There is a lot of room for Elliott to work with Randall Stephenson and make something happen. I think they’re being incredibly constructive and I think all shareholders would welcome this because the company has been undermanaged for way too long.”

– Jim Cramer, CNBC

“AT&T needs to slim down its balance sheet. Selling part or all of DirecTV is the best call.”

– Lex Column, Financial Times

“The $273 billion company [AT&T] could use someone with more expertise in growing media properties and who’s willing to part with weaker assets that are serving as distractions.”

– Tara Lachapelle, Bloomberg Opinion

“Elliott Management's pressure on the telecom to shake up leadership and sell assets (like DirecTV) is similar to a February effort by a secret shareholder.”

– Paul Bond and Tatiana Siegel, The Hollywood Reporter

“I think these Elliott guys are smart. They work hard to get to know their targets, they have enough resources to work with the best people … and they’ve relentlessly focused on creating value.”

– Jim Cramer, CNBC

“A well-constructed DirecTV divestiture alone would likely be enough to propel AT&T shares to a higher valuation. But it’s far from the only candidate for streamlining.”

– Roger Conrad, Forbes

“AT&T may benefit from running a broader search for Stephenson’s replacement, and outside pressure led by Elliott may give the board one more reason to do so.”

– Tara Lachapelle, Bloomberg Opinion

“Over the past 10 years, it [AT&T] has tried to buy growth, awkwardly, with a series of expensive merger and acquisition deals. These include a failed attempt to buy T-Mobile, the purchase of DirecTV at the very peak of the traditional television market, and most recently Time Warner. Elliott correctly points out that this has made AT&T ‘an outlier in terms of its M&A strategy: most companies today no longer seek to assemble conglomerates’.”

– Rana Foroohar, Financial Times

“For some reason AT&T leadership never really explained the connection between its wireless business and the giant entertainment business it was building, but its unspoken strategy does not seem silly. It just seems impossibly hard. Its fruition is a decade away. A lot can go wrong. AT&T faces a gnarly challenge in the meantime in orchestrating its online shift while trying not to cannibalize revenues needed to service its debt. One might also ask: Are managers steeped in telecommunications up to the job of overseeing a fizzy Hollywood content factory?”

– Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., The Wall Street Journal

“AT&T’s a cheap stock, trading at less than 10 times next year’s earnings, 5.5% yield that I believe is safe and now, finally, thanks to Elliott, a catalyst. That’s why I think you should be buying the stock. I bet the upside is huge, even with just a little bit of improvement.”

– Jim Cramer, CNBC

“The telecoms group, which orchestrated a controversial and ill-advised merger with Time Warner last year, is an underperforming, mismanaged dodo bird of a company — big enough to have racked up $190bn in debt yet not large enough to fend off the Big Tech apex predators ready to eat its lunch.”

– Rana Foroohar, Financial Times

“The topic of succession is a valid concern. Any conglomerate could benefit from having a CEO for whom there are no sacred cows.”

– Tara Lachapelle, Bloomberg Opinion

“It is tough to argue with Mr Singer’s maths.”

– Rana Foroohar, Financial Times

“A shake-up is long overdue… the benefits of AT&T’s transformation into a ‘modern media company’ are debatable.”

– Lex Column, Financial Times

“I predict it [AT&T] will someday be a case study about how corporate arrogance destroyed a tonne of value.”

– Rana Foroohar, Financial Times

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