The acquisition of GTE by Bell Atlantic, on June 30, 2000, which formed Verizon, was among the largest mergers in United States business history. It was the result of a definitive merger agreement, dated July 27, 1998, between Bell Atlantic, based in New York City since the merger with NYNEX in 1996, and GTE, which was in the process of moving its headquarters from Stamford, Connecticut, to Irving, Texas.
The Bell Atlantic-GTE merger, priced at more than $52 billion at the time of the announcement, closed nearly two years later, following analysis and approvals by Bell Atlantic and GTE shareowners, 27 state regulatory commissions and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and clearance from the United States Department of Justice (DoJ) and various international agencies.
The merger of Bell Atlantic and GTE, to form Verizon Communications, became effective on June 30, 2000, with an exchange ratio of 1.22 shares of Verizon Communications Common Stock for each share of GTE Common Stock owned. Fractional shares resulting from the exchange of GTE stock into Verizon Communications shares were sold at a price of $55.00 per share. Verizon began trading on the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) under its new “VZ” symbol on Monday, July 3, 2000.
Meanwhile, on September 21, 1999, Bell Atlantic and UK-based Vodafone AirTouch Plc (now Vodafone Group Plc) announced that they had agreed to create a new wireless business with a national footprint, a single brand and a common digital technology – composed of Bell Atlantic’s and Vodafone’s U.S. wireless assets (Bell Atlantic Mobile (which was previously called Bell Atlantic-NYNEX Mobile by 1997), AirTouch Cellular, PrimeCo Personal Communications and AirTouch Paging). This wireless joint venture received regulatory approval in six months, and began operations as Verizon Wireless on April 4, 2000, kicking off the new “Verizon” brand name. GTE’s wireless operations became part of Verizon Wireless – creating what was initially the nation’s largest wireless company before Cingular Wireless acquired AT&T; Wireless in 2004 – when the Bell Atlantic-GTE merger closed nearly three months later. Verizon then became the majority owner (55%) of Verizon Wireless.