AT&T Canada gets a new name

A name change and new corporate identity were the order of the day on Wednesday for AT&T Canada – now known globally as Allstream Inc.

While a press conference began in Toronto late Wednesday morning, changes to the company’s Web site were already under way, as the telco with 4,000 Canadian employees unveiled what John McLennan, vice-chairman and CEO of Allstream called, “the newest chapter in the evolution of the new company.”

“This company has been on an incredible journey over the past 24 months and I’m extremely proud of what we have collectively achieved and overcome during this period,” McLennan said. “In a way today is a combination of one journey and the very exciting launch of the next one.”

McLennan said the new corporate identity was an opportunity for Allstream to strengthen its position in the marketplace as a fully independent communications solutions provider. He also said the move was more than just changing the name and logo of the company, but is a major evolutionary step for the telco.

The new identity will cost Allstream anywhere from $20 to $25 million.

In April of this year the company emerged from its capital restructuring process and, as part of its commercial agreements with AT&T Corp., agreed to launch a corporate brand no later than September 9.

John MacDonald, president and COO of Allstream said Allstream was able to launch three months earlier. He also emphasized the fact that the company was financially and operationally sound.

Still, now that some of the ties with AT&T in the U.S. have been loosened, MacDonald said that Allstream would continue to work with AT&T Corp., and would continue to focus on the business enterprise market.

“We absolutely remain focused on servicing Canadian-based multi-national companies with our global networking requirements,” he said.

Mark Quigley, research director with the Yankee Group Canada in Ottawa said the new name and logo is a symbolic next step that Allstream has taken.

“Now it’s time for them to move on as a new company,” he said. “The view was [likely] that [if they] have the brand and [they] are ready to go…why not fire ahead now. I don’t know if there was anything more to it than that.”

Moving on for Allstream could mean several things for the company, but Quigley said the Toronto-based company is not likely in a rush to take that next step, whatever it might be.

“If you look at where the company has come from and the difficulty it has gone through in the past couple of years – with respect to the restructuring, and with respect to the overall telecom marketplace – I think a more steady approach to the market is something that is merited today,” Quigley said. “I don’t imagine [Allstream will] rush out and do anything in the short term.”

Quigley said future announcements from Allstream could come in the form of the company delivering new services and possibly even assaulting the residential market.

“If you were going to consider going back into the residential marketplace, doing it under a fresh, kind of consumer-friendly brand, which Allstream would certainly seem to be, would make sense,” he said.

Quigley said that at the end of the day – if the price was right – Allstream would also likely consider future deals and acquisitions.

The buzz in the industry over the past week has been that Vancouver-based Telus Corp. was getting ready to make a move to buy the former AT&T Canada. Quigley said Telus would likely wait until Allstream’s shares were lower until making any major commitments. He added the potentially new relationship would provide a number of immediate advantages for Telus such as access to Allstream’s fairly substantial customer base in both Ontario and Quebec.

“This is something that we might see later on in the marketplace, but I’m not so sure it’s going to happen,” Quigley said.

McLennan said that while Allstream has not been approached by a takeover offer as of yet, the company would consider each and every opportunity that comes before it.

“I believe the people at one of the telephone companies – that people are speculating are interested in acquiring our company – said that they do not have any open file in regards to our company. I would like to reiterate that we have no open file with them. We are not in discussions with any telephone company at this time,” McLennan added.

Allstream can be found on the Web at