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Stakes raised in MediaOne bidding war

Great Satan of Software to set up tracking stock to strengthen hand?

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The battle for control of MedaOne shows no sign of letting up. US cable operator, Comcast, put in a bid of $47 billion to buy MediaOne but this was trumped by AT&T's bid of $56 billion. If successful, AT&T would end up owning more than 50 per cent of Telewest. MediaOne owns half of UK mobile phone minnow One-2-One, as well as a 30 per cent stake in local cable TVer Telewest. Comcast has until Thursday to revise its bid and according to US reports, is hoping to enlist the help of Microsoft in the fight. Microsoft is a Comcast shareholder and has already said it is confident that it can outbid AT&T should it wish to. It now looks as though the software giant may create a tracking stock, which would be used to value its interests in the Web and communications. As well as keeping its new media investment interests separate from its core software business, this would put Microsoft in a position to engage in high-value stock swap deals such as the battle for MediaOne. The financial performance of Microsoft's Web-based businesses is thought to be under-valued in stock market terms, especially in light of the current love affair between the markets and all things Internet related. ® See also Microsoft, AOL enter MediaOne bidding war One-2-One to IPO

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