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Ma Bell rings in Dorman as president

Telecom giant AT&T names communications veteran David Dorman, who most recently led Concert, as its new president.

Telecom giant AT&T on Tuesday named communications veteran David Dorman as its new president.

Dorman, 46, most recently led Concert, AT&T's international joint venture with British Telecommunications. Concert's current president and chief operating officer, Gerard Weis, 53, will replace Dorman as the venture's acting CEO, the companies said.

News of Dorman's appointment follows a highly anticipated four-way reorganization plan recently outlined by AT&T. The plan breaks AT&T's broadband and business units into separate companies and lists consumer services as a tracking stock with its own chief executive.

As president of AT&T, Dorman will assume responsibility for the operations of the company's core consumer and business services units as well as its network services group, international ventures and AT&T Labs. Dorman will also oversee the company's interests in Concert, AT&T said.

Analysts say Dorman, who will assume his new role Dec. 1, has his work cut out for him.

"He has to whip the horses," said Guzman analyst Patrick Comack. "He has to transform AT&T into more of a broadband, data-centric company offering Internet infrastructure services on a global scale."

Comack said Dorman is the right man for the job, pointing to his vast experience in business services and his many years working in the communications sector.

Dorman is taking over the position last held by John Zeglis, chairman and chief executive of the AT&T Wireless Group.

Nearly four years ago Dorman gave up his role as CEO of local-phone carrier Pacific Bell to lead PointCast Network, a pioneer in the once-hot market for "push" technology. But the dot-com start-up folded its plans for an initial public offering and ultimately was bought by venture capital firm Idealab in May 1999.

He left his position as chief executive of PointCast to return to his corporate roots, joining Concert in April 1999.

Drake Johnstone, an see roundup: AT&T breaks up analyst at Davenport, says though Dorman is a veteran in the industry, his resume does not necessarily outline a list of success stories.

"PointCast failed...and Concert had trouble meeting revenue estimates," Johnstone said. "I wouldn't say his resume suggests that he's a firebrand type that's going to come in there and turn things around."

Dorman has a difficult feat ahead of him and a job description that isn't as attractive as others, Johnstone added. AT&T needed someone who has the patience to turn things around and who was willing to oversee the two least attractive areas of the business--consumer and business services, he said.

AT&T's cable and wireless divisions will continue to report to chief executive Michael Armstrong. Corporate functions, including finance, law and government affairs, human resources, brand management, and public relations, will also continue to report to Armstrong.

Dorman, who sits on 3Com's board and is serving his second term on President Clinton's advisory committee on high-performance computing and communications, also spent 14 years at rival Sprint, at one point serving as president of Sprint's business services unit.