Ivan Seidenberg: Bell Atlantic Rings In The New

On June 1, Ivan Seidenberg is taking the reins as CEO of Bell Atlantic, 2 1/2 months earlier than planned. Seidenberg, former head of Nynex, had been slated to take over from Raymond Smith on Aug. 14, a year after Nynex and Bell Atlantic completed their merger.

What gives? The move follows speculation inside the company that Seidenberg might not get the top job--that it might go to Lawrence Babbio or James Cullen, both Bell Atlantic veterans. One source inside the company described the atmosphere as "an armed camp," with former Nynex and Bell employees squaring off against each other. The promotion is expected to calm tensions.

Seidenberg has also had a big win recently: He positioned Bell Atlantic as the likely first Baby Bell let into long distance in its region. After months of hardball with New York regulators, the Bell is expected to ask fed regulators for approval in early fall.

Smith, who will remain as chairman until the end of the year, called the promotion "a vote of confidence for Ivan Seidenberg and his team."

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