Named after Alexander Graham Bell’s invention of the telephone, the American Telephone and Telegraph Company was born in 1875. In 1984, the Bell System was broken up into eight different companies, spawning AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T).

In 2018, AT&T is a global networking leader that delivers consumers and businesses leading voice over internet protocol (IP) services. AT&T was attempting to merge with Time Warner (TWX), but had run into opposition from the government. The State Department sued the two companies to prevent the merger from going forward. On June 12, 2018, the verdict of antitrust case that the U.S. Governement brought against the AT&T-Time Warner deal came in favor of a merger. The combined entity will become a huge media and telecom corporation. Here's a look at AT&T's top shareholders prior to any corporate structure changes effected by the deal.

This shareholder information is based on the SEC filings of these individuals.

1. Randall L. Stephenson

AT&T's chief executive officer (CEO) has been with the company since 1982 and ranks as its largest individual shareholder. According to the SEC filing on May 31, 2018, Stephenson owns 916,807 shares directly and 1.24 million shares indirectly. Since 2007, Stephenson has been instrumental in transitioning the company from traditional phone lines to wireless services. Through several acquisitions under his leadership, AT&T has expanded its public Wi-Fi footprint, offered a variety of web and video services, and built out its 4-gigabyte network. . Stephenson has served in a variety of roles including marketing, operations and finance. He served as the company’s chief operating officer (COO) from 2004 until his appointment as CEO in 2007.

2. John T. Stankey

John T. Stankey is the CEO of the AT&T Entertainment Group. He is the second-largest individual shareholder, with the latest SEC filing listing him as owning 625,040 shares indirectly as of May 31, 2018. Stankey began his career with Pacific Bell, which became part of AT&T Teleholdings Inc. in 1985. He was then steadily promoted through different parts of the organization. Some of Stankey's roles have included chief information officer (CIO), chief technology officer (CTO), CEO of AT&T’s Southwest region and president of industry markets. When the Time Warner deal goes through, Stankey will effectively run all Time Warner assets. 

3. John J. Stephens

John J. Stephens is the senior executive vice president and chief financial officer (CFO) of AT&T. Stephens is the third-largest shareholder with 298,176 shares held indirectly and 376,616 shares owned directly as of May 31, 2018. Stephens began his career with Ernst & Young as a tax senior manager. He joined AT&T in 1992 as the director of federal taxes in St. Louis, Missouri. In 2000, Stephens was appointed vice president of taxes, a position he held until 2001 when he was named CFO for the diversified business unit. 

Stephens serves on several boards of directors around the greater Dallas area where AT&T is headquartered. These include the Mays Business School at Texas A&M University, the United Way of Dallas and the Dallas Chamber of Commerce, to name a few.

4. Rafael de la Vega

Rafael de la Vega is the former vice chairman of AT&T and former CEO of its business solutions and international divisions. He left the company at the end of 2016 and his stock ownership as reflected in his SEC filings dated December 2016 stands at 489,992 shares held directly and 334,240 shares held indirectly. Since he is no longer a part of the company, these numbers may differ from the company's March 2018 proxy statement. 

De la Vega is a shining example of the American dream. He emigrated to the United States from Cuba in 1962 and worked his way through school, ultimately earning his master of business administration (MBA) from Northern Illinois University. In 2009, he co-authored the book "Obstacles Welcome: How to Turn Adversity to Advantage in Business and Life" to provide career and life advice for young professionals.

De la Vega began his career with Southern Bell, renamed BellSouth, in 1974. Working his way up through the company, he was promoted to president of BellSouth’s Latin American division. After BellSouth, De la Vega began serving as the CEO of Cingular Wireless in 2004. In 2007, Cingular acquired AT&T Mobility through a merger, and De la Vega remained the CEO of AT&T Mobility until 2014. De la Vega retried on December 31, 2016. 

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