Alltel CEO Scott Ford met the press today about the impact of Verizon's $28.1 billion purchase of the Little Rock-based wireless company. He offered a reassuring tone about future employment here, but no specifically reassuring promises for continued employment of the 3,200 Alltel workers in Arkansas once the deal is completed. Nothing will change in the immediate days ahead, he emphasized.
He acknowledged that some jobs will be trimmed when the companies combine. But he predicted that the "lion's share" of Alltel workers in Little Rock and around the country will have jobs at Verizon once the deal is complete. He said he'd be leaving, but, unlike most Alltel workers, he'll take a seven-figure severance package, possibly worth $3 million or more based on Arkansas Business' account this morning.
Ford's calm words aside, questions remain. Ford was clear that there will be no Verizon corporate headquarters to replace Alltel's, though he speculated that Verizon may establish regional offices here.
Also at question is the fate of a call center on the Alltel campus. Ford was unsure what Verizon would choose to do with the call center, which employs hundreds of people.
Ford said most questions about the deal need to be directed to Verizon.
Talk Business coverage includes this Ford quote: "It's no tragedy." And, about the departure of the current senior management team (all protected with severance packages and possibly some equity proceeds), "I'm going to be a synergy in this deal." Arkansas Business: "...not a funeral, it's a transition."
Ford indicated he had believed the private investment company that bought Alltel last year would be in place as owner for three to five years, but a sale was accelerated because of changing financial markets and concerns about the debt needed to finance the deal.
Reuters, which referred to Alltel as a "rural" mobile phone provider, said Verizon hoped to save $1 billion in the second year afer closing through reduced capital and operating costs. People are a big part of operating costs.
And, finally, courtesy of Arkansas Business, some video: