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It seems like only yesterday that firms were sifting through mounds of documents to help SBC Communications Inc. win approval for its acquisition of AT&T Inc. and its pedigreed name. Now with the bulked up AT&T’s decision to merge with BellSouth Corp., D.C firms are girding for a similar replay with regulators. Though the $67 billion merger is more than four times larger than the SBC deal, lawyers still aren’t expecting significant opposition from the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division, led by former Covington & Burling partner Thomas Barnett, or at the Federal Communications Commission, headed by former Wiley, Rein & Fielding attorney Kevin Martin. To shepherd the deal, AT&T will draw on many of the same firms that worked on the SBC deal. Crowell & Moring will lead the antitrust team, with Arnold & Porter and Sidley Austin Brown & Wood assisting in antitrust and other regulatory issues. “It’s a reunion,” says one participating attorney. On BellSouth’s side, Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider and Robbins Russell Englert Orseck & Untereiner will advise on antitrust, with Wiley handling backup at the FCC. Both sides are expected to hire dozens of contract attorneys if the government makes its expected request for additional documents. One part of the deal the Washington firms will not supervise, however, is the transactional work that will be handled by New York firms Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson, for BellSouth; and Sullivan & Cromwell, for AT&T.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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