NEW YORK (Reuters) - AT&T Inc <T.N> Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson said that his 2012 outlook for the U.S. economy looks similar to 2011 as he does not see a big recovery any time soon.
Stephenson told a Goldman Sachs investor conference that that he sees AT&T's business services division returning to growth in the fourth quarter of this year, but he noted that the company is dependent on employment levels and the U.S. economy.
"We're not seeing the signs that's about to take off," Stephenson said, adding that if he had to make a prediction right now, "2012 wouldn't look a lot different to what we've seen for 2011."
Stephenson said the consumer market was largely unchanged from December 2010, with "little activity" in the low end and trends unchanged at the high-end of the market.
The executive said the company still hoped it can address the U.S. government's concerns about its proposed $39 billion purchase of Deutsche Telekom AG <DTEGn.DE> unit T-Mobile USA.
While it is preparing for a trial starting February 13 to defend the deal, AT&T is also looking to talk to the U.S. Department of Justice about a possible settlement ahead of the court date. The DoJ sued to block the deal in August.
"We do remain hopeful there may be some kind of solution that could address the DoJ concerns," Stephenson told the conference. "The benefits of the deal are unchanged."
AT&T has promised T-Mobile USA a package of benefits as a consolation if regulators do not approve the deal. The package includes a $3 billion cash breakup fee, some wireless spectrum and a roaming agreement.
Stephenson said he could not put a value on the roaming segment of the breakup package but described it as a multiyear roaming agreement for its slower second- and third-generation mobile network in response to a question.
Some sources have estimated that the entire package could be worth as much as $6 billion.
Shares of AT&T were down 1.6 percent at $27.86 in early trading.
(Reporting by Sinead Carew; Editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Lisa Von Ahn)