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Vodafone plans rival Airtouch bid

The UK company is attempting to head-off Bell Atlantic's offer

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UK cellular leader Vodafone is attempting to outbid Bell Atlantic's $45 billion offer for Airtouch Cellular, according to US sources. A Vodafone offer for Airtouch was rumoured last year, but it appears Bell Atlantic's bid in the past few days has prompted the British company to make its move. Aside from being higher, a Vodafone offer may attract Airtouch because of similarities between the companies' strategies. Airtouch has major investments throughout the world, while Vodafone over the past few years has been investing world-wide too, buying stakes in a string of cellular providers. An Airtouch merger with Bell Atlantic would allow for some consolidation of non-US holdings, but the main event would be the creation of a far larger US cellular operation. The creation of a giant straddling the Atlantic would certainly be a part of a Vodafone-Airtouch deal, but there would be far greater opportunities for co-operation and expansion of the two companies' European mainland operations. ®

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