Monday, October 16, 2006

電訊合併遇政治阻力

llSouth合併成為全美最大,同時擁有長途電話、22個州的固網業務以及全國性流動電話(合併後全資擁有Cingular Wireless GSM網絡)時,美國聯邦通訊委員會(FCC)卻突然宣布,押後批准這宗世紀合併交易,究竟發生何事?

原來現有FCC的5位成員中,其中兩位屬民主黨的成員,對政府批准這單「刁」(Deal)有意見,他們質疑司法部,為甚麼可以批准這宗交易,而不向新公司附加任何反托辣斯法(控制壟斷的法例)的限制。由於FCC其中一位共和黨籍成員,曾做過AT&T和Bell South競爭對手的說客,不能投票,換言之,若該兩名民主黨人全力反對的話,這單總值達800億美元(6,240億港元)的交易就玩完。所以AT&T立刻向這兩名民主黨人提出另一個建議,願意為令這宗交易能夠順順過關,自願接受某些限制。不過,禤中怡不知AT&T提出甚麼新方法,但就不太看好AT&T能夠過關。

首先,美國中期選舉臨近,民主黨那兩位FCC成員如果接納一些選民不鍾意的條件,可能會影響選情。不過,若果日後出現一間那麼巨型的公司,消費者又不見得有著數。面對這種情況下,除非AT&T自己提出一些很辣的限制條款,否則那兩位政客會不會冒險批准,禤中怡抱有好大疑問。

另一方面,美國民主黨在傳統上一直對大財團壟斷睇得很緊。好像前雪茄總統,即克林頓還在白宮執政的時候,司法部差點想將軟件大王微軟這間大企業「拆骨」,後來小布殊上台後,就只是判以罰款了事,並沒有被人拆骨收場。對民主黨來說,克林頓並非一個「太左」的總統,在位期間都幾乎幫微軟拆骨,而這兩位民主黨的FCC成員之前又質疑過司法部為甚麼可以無條件批准這單合併交易,故此從政治角度來看,分分鐘凍過水。

長遠來看,目前共和黨民望這樣差,不單只國會分分鐘由民主黨重獲控制權,更可能在兩年後,由克林頓的老婆,現任紐約州參議員希拉莉做總統,屆時AT&T都不用指望可以同大公司合併,連與Verizon合併都未必獲批(因為吞併BellSouth後,Verizon會在美國東岸「玩晒」,成美國本土第二大的電話公司,自然成下一個被併購的目標)。做BellSouth股東的,分分鐘好夢成空。

從這宗交易可見,大企業合併能否成事,特別電訊業,始終要看政治形勢。真是要學點時事分析,否則不要隨便長揸美國電訊股。

(10月16日刊於《am730》)

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