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.

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