RealTime IT News

Never Say Never

Nippon Communications Corp. Tuesday extended the expiration date of its $5.5 billion bid to acquire Verio Inc. until the end of the month.

The Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. subsidiary's offer had been scheduled to expire at midnight on Monday.

The Japanese communications carrier was forced to extend its takeover bid for a fourth time, in order to keep its acquisition of Verio alive. The countdown to seal the deal is once again restarted, currently set to expire on Aug. 30 at midnight CDT.

The U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment, charged with reviewing NTT's purchase of the Internet service provider, ruled that the deal poses no risk to U.S. security in mid-August.

Federal agencies had initially expressed concern that foreign ownership of the Colorado-based communications company could interfere with the government's ability to monitor criminals and terrorists. U.S. delays in reviewing the purchase forced both firms to hit the snooze button on the deal twice in July and August.

After NTT agreed to review its pricing policies in the region, a move that might permit competitive U.S. communications carriers to break into the service area, the committee told NTT it found Japanese ownership of Verio would pose no security risk, and it advised that the White House clear the purchase.

Both firms remain positive that the deal will be done. According to NTT, President Clinton has until Aug. 29 by law, to decide the fate of the deal.

Scott Cleland, Precursor Group chief executive officer, said Washington may or may not meet the end-of-August deadline to approve the purchase.

"From Washington this deal will ultimately be done, but there may be other twists and turns to it," Cleland said. "In the end the government won't block the deal. They're working out the thorny issues that remain because the deal traverses uncharted territory."

NTT Communications agreed in May to buy the shares it did not already own of Verio for $60 a share.

The depositary for the tender offer, Wells Fargo Shareowner Services, said that as of Monday approximately 65.8 million shares of Verio common stock had been validly tendered for the deal.

NTT Communications provides long distance and international telecom services to more than 200 countries worldwide. Headquartered in Tokyo, NTT Communications' Arcstar services provide managed data, multimedia and Internet access to some of the largest companies in the world.

Verio is a leading global Internet solutions provider currently hosting more than 400,000 Web sites for companies operating in more than 127 countries.