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He called it a “last supper”: a dinner for a team of lawyers, bankers and executives representing Cingular Wireless LLC, gathered at a Manhattan restaurant to mourn the loss of a deal. But the gloomy tone of the evening changed dramatically as Joseph Frumkin, a mergers and acquisitions partner at New York’s Sullivan & Cromwell, was leaving the dinner at Eleven Madison Park. The executives from SBC Communications Inc., and BellSouth Corp., the parent companies of Cingular, were pretty sure they’d lost their final bid for cell phone company AT&T Wireless Services Inc., which had put itself on the auction block just a month earlier. But then a Cingular banker received word from Jim Kahan, an SBC vice president, who called to say that SBC was willing to go up a dollar a share from its previous bid. Cingular wanted AT&T Wireless to agree to the deal right away. That would force out Vodafone Group Plc, Cingular’s main competitor in the bidding. So Frumkin placed a call to Steven Rosenblum, a partner at New York’s Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz, which was representing AT&T Wireless. Frumkin and Rosenblum, both veterans of the M&A bar, had worked on two deals together in the past. Frumkin asked Rosenblum if AT&T would consider Cingular’s new terms — and if so, if it would accept the bid immediately. After consulting his client, Rosenblum quickly agreed. “His call to his counterpart at Wachtell brought us back to life,” recalls Gil Ha, managing director at Rohatyn Associates LLC, SBC’s financial adviser. Cingular took the prize for $41 billion. It was the second-biggest U.S. merger of 2004. Read the full dealmaker profile and the complete corporate scorecard by subscribing to The American Lawyer.

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