Talk runs gamut from "rocket docket" to "Just go slow." A merger announcement kickstarted NARUC's annual conference last year. This year, in San Francisco, there was little difference in conference chatter. Only this time, MCI Communications Corp. and British Telecommunications Plc were the suitors, in a $20 billion corporate marriage.
Regulators had better get used to the "M" word, noted speaker John E. Hayes, Jr., chairman of Western Resources Corp.
In utilities alone, he said, there were 69 gas and electric business combinations worth $23 billion through August of 1996, compared to $17 billion in 1995. The 1996 figure exceeds the value of all mergers and acquisitions spanning 1988 to 1994.
But to characterize the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners' November 18-21 conference as "merger-prone" would be inaccurate.
U.S. Rep. Dan Schaefer (R-CO) portrayed Capital Hill's electric restructuring debate as shifting from "just say no" to "just go slow." Edward Tirello, senior vice president of NatWest Securities, predicted that mortgage, cable, alarm and long-distance telephone services will be sold packaged (em with the main consumer bennie being frequent flier miles. And William Massey of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) called for a "rocket docket," a fast-track merger approval if a case tripped no competitive buzzers.