Rupert Goodwins' Diary

Friday 07/04/2006Hear that sound? There! The one that sounds like an enormous meteor of cash spinning through the stratosphere?

Friday 07/04/2006

Hear that sound? There! The one that sounds like an enormous meteor of cash spinning through the stratosphere? That's one side effect of this week's phenomenal amount of activity in mergers and acquisitions; an awful lot of bankers become an awfully lot richer.

Other effects will be more difficult to call. Amazingly, nobody in the US has had a hissy fit over Alcatel buying Lucent Technologies — even Senator Charles Schumer, who led the national spots before the eyes over Dubai wanting to buy the American ports, says he's happy because "The United Arab Emirates had a nexus of terrorism that France does not have". Well, if you don't count blowing up the Rainbow Warrior or engaging in huge amounts of state-sponsored commercial espionage as being in some way naughty, then you won't worry about handing over a company which has been at the heart of the security services' technology work since forever — especially not to a country which is a solid trading partner with Iran.

One thing it does block is the idea that AT&T — which is rapidly building itself back to the old Bell Telephone system by acquiring companies such as BellSouth — could have bought Lucent, thus rebuilding the old Bell Labs relationship. Instead, it and the other telcos will have to deal with a supplier that's now big enough to take back some control over the market — at least until the next mega-merger among the telcos themselves.

And then there's NTL/Telewest, which is buying Virgin Mobile and promptly assuming the V for all services. One of the reasons Branson held out is over concerns that NTL's grotty customer service record would contaminate the

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