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AT&T CEO: I had dinner with a bunch of CEOs and we don't see the market correction changing our outlook

  • AT&T's Randall Stephenson describes a dinner conversation he had with other business leaders about the recent market swings.
  • Stephenson says he and the CEOs were largely unconcerned.
  • A market correction does not have a whole lot of impact in terms of how "we think about the world the next two years," he said.

Randall Stephenson and other CEOs are not too concerned about the stock market correction affecting their businesses in the near term.

The AT&T chairman and CEO on Friday described a dinner conversation he had the night before with a bunch of other business leaders about the recent market swings. "There's a big table," he recalled. "Everybody [was] talking about this market correction." He said someone asked the group: "'How does the correction affect you?'"

"Everybody around the table was saying business is as good as it's been in a long time, Stephenson said in an interview on CNBC's "Squawk Box" from Pebble Beach, California, the site of AT&T Pro-Am golf tournament. "[At AT&T], we've made plans to step up our capital spending next year. It has changed nothing in terms of what we intend to do."

The Dow Jones industrial average bounced back and forth in correction territory on Friday after closing more than 1,000 points lower the previous session. Under pressure midday Friday, the Dow was heading for its worst weekly performance since October 2008, during the financial crisis.

However, Stephenson said that "a two-, three-, four-week market correction for those of us who are investing and running businesses ... [wouldn not] have a whole lot of impact in terms of how we think about the world the next two years."

Stephenson said the CEOs were optimistic because of the new tax overhaul law, which lowered the corporate rate.

Citing tax reform, Stephenson announced in December that AT&T would give more than 200,000 of its U.S. workers a special bonus of $1,000. The telecom giant also increased its capital expenditures budget by $1 billion in the U.S.

At the time, Stephenson said he saw the passage of the tax bill as a "monumental step" that would bring "U.S. businesses in line with the rest of the industrialized world."

Also in Friday's CNBC interview, Stephenson said AT&T is in litigation with the government over its efforts to block the company's proposed $85 billion buyout of Time Warner. But Stephenson said he expects to win approval.

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