The breakup of AT&T Corp. should have a negligible effect on the unit that serves the banking industry, according to bankers and AT&T officials.
The restructuring translates into the elimination of 8,500 of the 42,800 jobs in the computer unit known as AT&T Global Information Solutions. The unit, along with two others, will be spun off as an independent, publicly traded company.
However, in the division of AT&T GIS that serves the banking industry most directly, the work force should shrink by only about 5%.
The financial industry group, which provides the banking industry with such products as automated teller machines and check processing systems, was spared larger cuts because it has been AT&T GIS's most profitable line of business.
Given that fact, AT&T has also resolved to focus its energies in the financial arena. The restructured financial industry business unit will draw financial marketing, development, and manufacturing into a single organization.
"I think the changes will be a net positive," said William M. Randle, a senior vice president with Huntington Bancshares in Columbus, Ohio. "If they give GIS a life of its own, it will be less fettered by wondering what" AT&T's home office in New Jersey wants it to do.
The creation of a new unit is "not an issue at all," said John A. Russell, chief communication officer with Banc One Corp., also based in Columbus. Even broken up, the individual units will be "certainly able to stand on their own," he said.
As part of the announcement, AT&T also said it will exit the business of making personal computers. However, it will continue to support customers who have purchased PC systems.
"The key point of the restructuring is that we want to get our expenses under control, something we should have done earlier," said Wolfgang R. Dalichau, U.S. vice president for sales in the financial industry business unit.
Shedding the manufacturing and mass distribution of personal computers, and concentrating "on what we've done properly in the past" will help make the company "successful and will return the company to profitability," he said.
AT&T Corp.'s operating losses through the first six months of this year are about $332 million. Total losses for 1995 are expected to be over $600 million.
The restructuring into three separate companies is largely a response to the pressures the company has felt since acquiring NCR Corp. in 1991 for $7.4 billion, observers said.
"We are going to focus on the core competencies and core markets of our company," Mr. Dalichau said.
AT&T GIS's new headquarters will be in London, a major financial center close to its development and manufacturing plant in Dundee, Scotland.
The financial industry unit will continue to focus on providing branch delivery systems, ATMs, call centers, and home banking systems.
Another target area will be payment systems, where it hopes to expand its incursions into the image-based check processing market. Wachovia Corp. is using AT&T equipment to process over one million items daily.
AT&T GIS also intends to become a greater provider of relationship banking and data warehouse technology.
As part of this effort, it expects to knock down obstacles to moving from symmetrical multiprocessing systems to massively parallel machines. AT&T GIS already is a leader in these areas of computing, industry experts said.
It is also strong in several other areas.
AT&T said it has about 16% of the branch automation market, with multimillion-dollar installations at Fleet Financial Group Inc., Providence, R.I.; Centura Banks Inc., Rocky Mount, N.C.; Mercantile Bancorp., St. Louis; and National City Corp., Cleveland.
With roughly $60 million in sales of branch automation systems this year, the company said it will work with each of these clients to ensure that their migration to new PC computer platforms will be smooth.
AT&T GIS has already begun the process of integrating PCs from other hardware vendors into its branch automation platform, according to Joseph Horine, a spokesman for the company.
Observers said the restructuring makes sense.
Bill Bradway, a bank technology analyst with the Tower Group, Wellesley, Mass., noted that AT&T "can't be everything to everybody in a very competitive and somewhat consolidated industry."
"This is a way to spin ATT GIS back into the marketplace. It's being turned over to its shareholders," he said.
Huntington's Mr. Randle noted further that the restructuring "might allow GIS, or the former NCR group, to become more focused on serving the needs of commercial banks."