Ncr, Phone Home

At the time, it was hailed as a bold and brilliant stroke: After eight years of false starts and $2 billion in losses in computers, American Telephone & Telegraph Co. made itself a player in a crucial business with the $7.5 billion hostile takeover of computer maker NCR Corp. in 1991. And none of the computer companies that AT&T could have bought had a more global sales organization, more modern product line, or cleaner balance sheet than did the Dayton-based NCR. Sure, AT&T paid 20% more than the market price of NCR before the takeover began, but mostly Chairman Robert E. Allen was applauded for acting so decisively.

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