Crunch time for MCI/Verizon/Qwest lurve triangle

It's a real weepy

Giant US telco Verizon is in a strop amid fears it could be jilted by MCI. It's told the company formerly known as WorldCom that if it decides to accept the $8.9bn offer from Qwest - even after already agreeing to be acquired by Verizon - then it will walk away from the deal.

Last week Qwest upped its offer to $8.9bn after Verizon increased its bid for MCI to $7.6bn. After much umming and aahing, MCI has decided to consider Qwest's offer.

But while Qwest's bid is higher in financial terms than its rival's, Verizon remains adamant that its offer is what's best for MCI.

Said the company in a statement: "Verizon believes that the decision facing MCI is not about the math of a particular moment in time; it is about good business judgement, the best interests of shareowners and the long-term viability of the new company.

"If the MCI Board, capitulating to Qwest's artificial deadline [midnight Tuesday], declares this bid to be 'superior', it would seem to us that the decision-making process is being driven by the interests of short-term investors rather than the company's long-term strength and viability."

And in a last ditch attempt to stop MCI running off with Qwest, Verizon said: "Together, Verizon and MCI would form a leading global competitor with financial strength, an extensive US and European presence, and industry leading capabilities in IP-based and wireless products and services.

"We believe a combined Verizon/MCI would be far better equipped to compete in the challenging industrial environment than a combined Qwest/MCI. Indeed, as we have written to you previously, we believe that instead of being an industry leader, a combined Qwest/MCI may not even form a viable competitor."

"Verizon's plan for MCI is clear and straight forward - Verizon intends to invest in MCI now and in the future so that MCI not only survives but prospers to become an even more formidable competitor," it said. ®

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