Marketing Shareholder Democracy in the Regions: Bell Telephone Securities, 1921–1935
Abstract

This study widens the historical perspectives of how a firm coordinates its activities to simultaneously achieve financial and political ends while using regional efforts to enact a national strategy. It examines how AT&T organized Bell Telephone Securities (BTS), a transitional subsidiary during the period 1921–1935, to broaden ownership of corporate shares and to develop political and cultural identities with Bell among small investors, particularly in the South and West. Equally significant was BTS's maintenance of liquidity of the Bell shares in the stock market, particularly in support of periodic rights offerings and debt conversions that were primary channels for increasing corporate equity. The subsidiary was eventually disbanded when its defining financial policies became unsustainable because of the radical socioeconomic and regulatory changes brought on by the Great Depression, but by this time many of its original objectives had been realized.


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