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RealTime IT News

MCI, Qwest Return to The Table

Under fire for walking away from the negotiating table, MCI will resume talks with Qwest , the company said late Wednesday.

The board of directors for the Ashburn, Va., long-distance and network services provider is weighing Qwest's $8.45 billion offer against Verizon's $6.7 billion bid.

"MCI's board has determined to continue its discussions with Qwest and has instructed its advisors and management to begin this process promptly," the company said in a statement.

Verizon, which has questioned some of the synergies that Qwest claims in its proposal, agreed to MCI's request for a waiver permitting these discussions, MCI added.

The decision to resume the exchange came a day after Qwest CEO Richard Notebaert blasted MCI for disconnecting acquisition talks.

Qwest wants more information about tax issues. The Denver telecom also wants to talk with Richard Breeden, who was tapped to put MCI back on ethical footing after its historic accounting scandal about internal controls.

MCI expects to make a decision about Qwest's offer by March 28.

Qwest and Verizon covet MCI because of its large IP data-service deals with government agencies and corporations. And with the pending merger of SBC and AT&T , neither wants to be left behind by the wave of industry consolidation.

The Baby Bells see those long-term, high-margin contracts as crucial to their future prosperity, as cable operators, VoIP upstarts and wireless carriers try to hone in on their traditional businesses.