Verizon/MCI merger faces more scrutiny

MCI's largest shareholder Carlos Slim Helu said he's unhappy with the Verizon offer, and he will take a more "active interest" in the merger talks.

The MCI merger saga continues. Now MCI's largest shareholder is weighing in, and he doesnÂ’t seem happy.

Carlos Slim Helu, dubbed the richest man in Latin America by Forbes, filed a form with the Securities and Exchange Commission saying that he has taken an "active interest" in merger talks between Verizon Communications and Qwest Communications International, and he has urged MCI's board to "maximize value for the owners of common shares."

The Wall Street Journal reported that a spokesman for the billionaire said he viewed both the Verizon and Qwest offers as too low. This echoes sentiments of several other large shareholders, who have also said they're unhappy with the offers. Earlier in the week, Verizon agreed to allow MCI to reopen negotiations with Qwest until March 17th.

Just when you thought Verizon had the deal sewn up, it looks like things might get messy. Will Verizon have to increase its bid? Will Qwest finally win over MCI's board? Or will Slim swoop in and spoil the party by buying everyone else out? MCI has been in a similar situation in the past. Back in 1997, its sweetheart deal with British Telecom was busted up by competing bidders, and the company was eventually sold to WorldCom.


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