Qwest Starts Clock On MCI Offer

Qwest’s $8.45 bid for MCI will expire
April 5 at midnight, Qwest CEO Richard C. Notebaert said today.

“Since both of us recognize the importance of reaching a decision promptly,
we think it is reasonable to inform you that if we have not executed an
agreement on or before midnight, April 5, 2005, our offer will be
withdrawn,” Notebaert said in a letter to MCI Chairman Nicholas Katzenbach.

The letter, made public today in a Qwest regulatory filing, also reiterated
the reasons that Qwest believes its offer is superior to Verizon’s $6.7 billion proposal.

There was no immediate response from Ashburn, Va.-based MCI, which had given
itself until midnight tonight to exchange information with Qwest about its

Unless MCI asks for more time (an unlikely scenario), the drop-dead date
means the end is in sight for what’s been a bitter battle between Qwest and
Verizon for the once bankrupt network operator.

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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