Sbc communications said yesterday it expects to eliminate about 13,000 jobs after its $16 billion acquisition of AT&T closes, but the...

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NEW YORK — SBC Communications said yesterday it expects to eliminate about 13,000 jobs after its $16 billion acquisition of AT&T closes, but the telephone company stressed that many positions can be cut through attrition rather than layoffs.

The projection came during an occasionally heated meeting with investors a day after SBC announced plans to acquire AT&T, its former corporate parent, in a deal that would create one of the world’s biggest telecommunications companies on numerous fronts.

The cuts would come in addition to existing plans at the two companies to eliminate at least 12,000 jobs before the merger is finalized at least a year from now. Combined, the 25,000 expected cuts represent about 12 percent of the current work force at the two companies.

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The meeting included some questions from analysts and money managers who asked whether AT&T had shopped itself to anyone but SBC and whether it sold itself too cheaply despite the company’s rapidly deteriorating business.

There also were some audible groans when the question-and-answer session was halted after about 30 minutes despite assurances early on by Edward Whitacre Jr., SBC chairman and chief executive, that the purpose of the meeting was to answer attendees’ questions.

AT&T Chairman and CEO David Dorman rejected suggestions AT&T had failed to seek the best possible payoff for shareholders.

“We haven’t been hiding under a bushel basket,” said Dorman, 51, who also was adamant in saying he had received no formal or informal promise that he would take over the top job at the merged company when Whitacre, 63, retires.

“In terms of people who could possibly do this transaction, there’s only three,” Dorman said, referring to SBC and its Bell rivals, Verizon and BellSouth. “We know who they are and they know who we are.”

SBC said the divisions that would have excess staffing after the merger included about 5,100 from management of the long-distance and local networks.

An additional 5,100 would be cut from sales, order provisioning, billing inquiry and other forms of customer support.

About 2,600 additional positions would be eliminated in administrative areas such as human resources and the two companies’ sizable regulatory and lobbying operations, which have fought countless legal battles against one another in the past 20 years. SBC declined to say in which states the 12,800 cuts might come.