Close but no cigars!

The pursuit of US long distance phone carrier MCI appears to have yet more mileage. Following earlier statements that the company had agreed to a sweetened $7.6 billion (€5.8bn, £4bn) bid from the nation's number one telco Verizon Communications [WAMN: 31-Mar-05], rival bidder Qwest has dangled another carrot before MCI shareholders.

It is now offering $8.93bn, up from $8.45bn, for the company known as Worldcom before last year's fraud scandal.

MCI says its board will review the new offer and "respond accordingly". The board has twice accepted lower bids from Verizon, citing the $98bn giant's financial stability as its reason. Qwest, on the other hand, is valued at around $6.7bn and has a $17bn debt.

Verizon has refused to comment on these latest developments, but awaits with interest Tuesday's deadline for MCI's response to Qwest.

Data sourced from Financial Times Online; additional content by WARC staff