Login Register Subscribe
Current Issue

Seamless integration a hallmark

Reprints

Mergers and acquisitions are an ongoing challenge for Marty Webb as Dallas-based vice president of benefits for acquisition-minded AT&T Inc.

AT&T has made frequent deals over the years, and Mr. Webb seeks to seamlessly integrate acquired companies' employee benefits into his company's fold. With any merger, AT&T will start working with an acquired company as soon as the deal is announced, he said. Often “that happens through a structured process to exchange information, and so we exchange that information over a period of time so when the acquisition does occur, we're ready to take the next step of doing what we need to do to integrate the two companies,” he said.

“From my perspective that becomes, "How are we going to change? What do we do on the benefits side to make sure all the employees have the appropriate benefits across the entire spectrum of benefits?'” said Mr. Webb.

In May, AT&T announced a $49 billion merger with El Segundo, California-based DirecTV L.L.C. “We'll adopt best practices across both companies, and we'll determine what that means from a benefits perspective on a going-forward basis,” he said.

For instance, DirecTV does not use AT&T's pharmacy manager, CVS Caremark, a unit of Woonsocket, Rhode Island-based CVS Health Corp.

“We'll look at that and determine whether it makes sense to make a change there,” said Mr. Webb. “We have very few vendors' relationships that are common. It will be a challenge.”

Meanwhile, recent acquisitions could mean that Mr. Webb's job takes on more of an international flavor. DirecTV, with 5,000 domestic employees and an equal number internationally, has a significant Latin American presence.

Other recent deals include AT&T's acquisition of Mexican wireless provider Iusacell from Grupo Salinas, which has about 10,000 employees in Mexico, Mr. Webb said.

“My job today is primarily focused on domestic employees,” but with the number of international employees increasing exponentially, “we're going to have to determine what that means going forward,” which will “evolve over time,” he said.

Right now, internationally based employees are handled “on a country-by-country basis, but not directly by me. I'll be involved with that, but whether I'll take responsibility for that or not remains to be seen,” he said.

“We'll have to figure out what's the best way for us to provide benefits internationally, what's the right structure for us to do that,” he said.