It looks as if Wall Street overestimated the desirability of this year's prime merger candidate. When Centel put itself on the block on Jan. 23, its stock soared on the expectation that the big regional Bells would bid up the Chicago-based phone company's local telephone operations and cellular properties. But on May 27, Centel announced a stock-swap merger with Sprint that values Centel at just $33.50 a share, based on Sprint's closing price that day. Centel had closed the same day at 42 1/2.
Centel holders are sure to protest. But Centel Chairman John Frazee says he expects no problem winning shareholder approval.