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Telecommunications Policy
ISSN : 0308-5961

Restructuring diversified telecom operators


Svein Ulset | Norwegian School of Economics and Business Administration Bergen Breiviksveien

Vol.31 No.3-4 , pp.209 ~ 229


The paper examines restructuring cycles among diversified major telecom operators from two different perspectives, the governance deficiency perspective of agency theory and the governance efficiency perspective of transaction cost economics, the former being less consistent with the spirit of recent pro-competitive regulatory reforms than the latter. This restructuring cycle describes how incumbent operators grew larger and more diversified during the telecom boom before they were transformed into more efficient scale and scope either by economizing managers or by market forces along with actively intervening owners and bondholders during the subsequent telecom bust. A cycle whose expansion phase is characterized by highly acquisitive companies expanding into non-related activities followed by a delayed contraction phase where overdiversified companies are being restructured by market forces and intervening owners and bondholders is consistent with the reform-non-compliant governance deficiency thesis of agency theory. A cycle whose expansion phase is characterized by acquisitive companies expanding into related activities followed by a contraction phase where companies are restructured by their own managers after having realized that previously acquired assets have become more redeployable and their services more tradable is consistent with the reform-compliant governance efficiency thesis of transaction cost economics. Now, in the aftermath of the contraction phase of the


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