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Atlanta-Atlanta law firms may have slowed the flow of mergers and acquisitions deals to New York over the past decade, but hometown corporate icon BellSouth Corp. chose a Gotham firm as its lead adviser for the phone company’s largest-ever deal. Fried, Frank, Harris, Shriver & Jacobson represents BellSouth on the company’s pending $67 billion acquisition by AT&T Inc. of San Antonio. It’s the fifth major M&A deal since April 1999 for which New York-based Fried Frank was hired as BellSouth’s lead legal adviser. Kilpatrick Stockton of Atlanta, led by partner W. Stanley Blackburn, represents BellSouth on issues related to Georgia law on the deal. James L. Smith III and D.C. “Chip” Presten III, partners at another Atlanta firm, Troutman Sanders, served as AT&T’s legal adviser on Georgia issues. The AT&T-BellSouth combination, which was announced Sunday and is subject to antitrust approval by federal regulators and approval from the companies’ shareholders, would create the world’s largest telecommunications company. Fried Frank has a long, productive history with BellSouth, said Philip Richter, one of three Fried Frank partners who led the deal. Most recently, Fried Frank was BellSouth’s legal counsel in 2004 when it purchased AT&T Wireless for $41 billion. “We’ve known each other for years, so this was a relatively easy transaction,” Richter said. In addition to Richter, Fried Frank partners Arthur Fleischer Jr. and Peter S. Golden served as lead counsel to BellSouth. Kilpatrick has served as an M&A adviser to BellSouth numerous times in the past, particularly with the company’s international wireless business, said W. Benjamin Barkley, a partner at Kilpatrick and chairman of the firm’s corporate department. Kilpatrick also advised BellSouth on its 2004 joint venture with AT&T to form Yellowpages.com and on a recent partnership with Yahoo! Inc. on the BellSouth.net Internet portal. “BellSouth has a large and sophisticated legal department, and we frequently work behind the scenes with their lawyers,” Barkley said. Kilpatrick also has worked for BellSouth in litigation, real estate, bankruptcy, labor and intellectual property law, Barkley said. Sullivan & Cromwell serves as AT&T’s lead legal adviser on the BellSouth purchase. Sullivan & Cromwell and Fried Frank were on the same side of the table in another recent BellSouth transaction, when the company acquired AT&T Wireless. Since Sullivan & Cromwell and Fried Frank both have their primary New York conference centers in the same building-the Seagram Building at 375 Park Avenue-virtually all of the work on the AT&T-BellSouth deal took place there, Richter said. “We were shuttling between offices,” he said.

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