NEW YORK, April 1 -- MCI Inc. invited Qwest Communications International Inc. to reopen merger talks Friday, just three days after the long-distance phone company agreed to a sweetened $7.65 billion buyout from Verizon Communications Inc. and a day after Qwest raised its bid to nearly $9 billion.
Qwest dismissed the gesture as disingenuous and repeated a deadline of Tuesday for MCI to accept or reject its offer. The Denver-based company noted that when MCI agreed to the new Verizon deal on Tuesday, it notified Qwest that there was no need for additional discussions.
For Second Time, Qwest Raises Bid To Win MCI (The Washington Post, Apr 1, 2005)
Qwest Mulls Proxy Fight For MCI, Will Increase Bid (The Washington Post, Mar 31, 2005)
MCI Accepts Sweetened Verizon Bid Over Qwest (The Washington Post, Mar 30, 2005)
Qwest Gives MCI a Week to Accept Bid (The Washington Post, Mar 29, 2005)
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"Therefore, it is questionable what additional information the MCI Board would require at this time," Qwest said in a news release, which also criticized MCI for agreeing to new provisions in the Verizon deal that hamper MCI's ability to terminate that contract in favor of a superior proposal. "We urge the MCI Board to cease its favoritism . . . and run a fair, transparent, complete and timely sales process."
MCI's stock price rose for a fourth straight session on Friday -- to a level nearly 10 percent higher than the price Verizon has agreed to pay -- as investors again speculated that either Verizon will be forced to boost its bid again, or that Qwest might pull off an upset in the two-month tussle.
But rather than bidding higher, Verizon could try to halt the bidding by triggering a provision in its agreement with MCI that would require a straight vote by MCI shareholders on the current deal.
"We may ask for a vote at some point and have that right under our agreement of [March 29], but have not yet. No comment on whether we will," Verizon spokesman Eric Rabe said by e-mail.
Shares of MCI rose 39 cents to close at $25.29 in Friday trading on the Nasdaq National Market. Verizon shares fell 31 cents to close at $35.19 on the New York Stock Exchange, while Qwest shares slipped 6 cents to close at $3.64 on the NYSE.