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AT&T to Axe 4,650

AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T) will be cutting 1.5 percent of its workforce -- about 4,650 employees -- as "part of the company’s move from a collection of regional companies to one AT&T."

That's the wording in an Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) 8-K filing by AT&T this morning. The filing says AT&T will take a $374 million charge for the cuts, which will mostly involve employees in "non-customer-facing areas."

AT&T is describing the action as the normal streamlining after a big merger, rather than a reaction to any trouble. That seems to imply it's the fallout from the BellSouth merger, which closed more than a year ago. (See FCC Welcomes 'Ma Bell' Back.)

Then again, AT&T has already said its consumer business is suffering due to the weak U.S. economy. That news, delivered in January, came in contrast to CEO Randall Stephenson's earlier optimism about all the upgrading AT&T had to do to keep up with demand, and it lowered AT&T's grade to a B+ on Light Reading's carrier scorecard. (See Carrier Scorecard: Economic Uncertainty, Whoa Mama Bell!, and AT&T Parties Like It's 1999.)

The 8-K notes that AT&T will be hiring, too, so that its overall headcount should stay about the same. AT&T employed 310,000 as of Dec. 31.

With most technology stocks trading upward this morning, AT&T shares climbed 30 cents (0.8%) to $37.87.

— Craig Matsumoto, West Coast Editor, Light Reading

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