In attempt to garner support for its proposed $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA, the nation’s second-largest mobile carrier, AT&T (NYSE:T), is promoting one benefit that is sure to get people’s attention: jobs.
On Wednesday, AT&T (NYSE:T) plans to announce that it will bring back 5,000 call-center jobs to the U.S. that had been outsourced abroad, while committing to maintaining its and T-Mobile’s more than 25,000 call-center jobs in the United States. The move is meant to assuage regulators’ fears that the merger would eliminate many jobs in an effort to cut costs.
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AT&T (NYSE:T) has said that the merger would allow the phone companies to cut costs, and has already forecast roughly $3 billion in annual savings. Oftentimes the savings effected by a merger are through job cuts, but AT&T says it will instead create jobs by building out the combined company’s next-generation wireless network, an effort expected to cost over $8 billion. Still the new company will shut hundreds of retail stores around the country and other back-office positions are likely to be eliminated.
As of January 31, AT&T (NYSE:T) employed 365,410 in the U.S, while T-Mobile, currently a unit of Deutsche Telekom, employs about 42,000 in the United States. Watching the news over the last month, AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson said he asked himself what he could do to make the merger more palatable to the public, and in turn regulators. Stephenson thinks the answer to his question — jobs — “sends a good message to the U.S. and to the labor markets.”
Despite the move to create more jobs, Stephenson says he is sure that AT&T would still be able to meet its projected cost savings. Of course, jobs aren’t the only concern holding up the merger’s approval. Consumer groups and competing wireless carriers like Sprint (NYSE:S) and Verizon (NYSE:VZ) are opposed to the deal that would give AT&T the largest share of the wireless market by far. However, telecommunications workers’ unions, technology companies like Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and Facebook, and 27 U.S. governors have all pledged their support of the merger.