By eweek  |  Posted 2001-06-04

BellSouth stands out as the only regional carrier that has not done "the big deal" and merged with one of its giant peers.

But CEO F. Duane Ackermans company is no shrinking violet in this era of telecom mergers.

BellSouth remains independent, but it has brokered more than 100 deals to quickly expand from a local phone company in the southern corner of the U.S. to a global telecom well entrenched in Latin America and in Europe.

That all adds up to 44 million customers, $24 billion in revenue and stock performance that makes shareholders worry very little about the "big deal."

One of its most prominent partnerships, at least in the U.S., is the Cingular Wireless joint venture with SBC Communications.

Ackerman says much of BellSouths revenue still comes from its traditional local phone operation, but hes working to change that.

BellSouths two biggest growth areas are wireless and data services. The company has been particularly aggressive in wireless and now offers service in 11 Latin American countries.

Focusing on providing value for shareholders and generating strong customer growth without adding deep debt has helped BellSouth along, Ackerman says.

"Were not beyond our headlights in funding and resources," he says.

According to Ackerman, BellSouth has been better able to focus on business fundamentals because it hasnt had to go through the complexities of a major merger, but a "big deal" isnt out of the question.

"I would never say we wouldnt do a deal, but its important to maintain focus among all the hype and noise to deliver whats best for shareholders," he says.

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