AT&T execs roll their eyes as Elliott Management takes victory lap on $43B merger

Some higher ups at AT&T aren’t too happy about billionaire Paul Singer’s hedge fund’s response to their $43 billion media merger on Monday.

“Elliott Management is taking a victory lap even though they had nothing to do with getting this deal done” one AT&T insider griped to The Post about AT&T’s plans to combine its WarnerMedia entertainment unit with media giant Discovery.

Elliott took a $3.2 billion stake in AT&T in September 2019, calling in a letter for “improved strategic focus” and “enhanced leadership.” But the hedge fund’s execs weren’t in the room when negotiations to were taking place, according to sources close to the situation.

That didn’t stop Elliott executive Jesse Cohn from tweeting about the deal on Monday in a way that rubbed some insiders the wrong way.

“@ATT has now executed on its promise to streamline operations and re-focus on its core businesses,” Cohn said in a tweet about what he called AT&T’s “transformational year.”

A source close to Elliott Management fired back by doubling down on the notion that the deal was the result of the hedge fund’s activism. “AT&T wouldn’t have completed the deal if we hadn’t put out that letter,” this person said. “There’s not even a debate that Elliott provided cover for John (Stankey) to make the necessary changes.”

Stankey took the reins from Randall Stephenson in April 2020 in what presumably was a step towards “enhanced leadership.”

Another Elliott insider, however, emphasized the now-collegial relationship between the hedge fund and AT&T. “Stankey saw things the way we did,” this person said. “This is a feel-good story.”

“It’s puzzling a statement in which Jesse (Cohn) gives credit to John (Stankey) is being considered a victory lap.”