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News > Deals
Bell, Vodafone near deal?
September 12, 1999: 5:21 p.m. ET

Combination of U.S. wireless operations could be worth $80B, report says
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NEW YORK (CNNfn) - Bell Atlantic, the largest of the nation's "Baby Bells," appears to be close to a deal to combine its wireless telephone operations with those of Vodafone Airtouch Plc, creating a new company with a value between $70 billion and $80 billion, according to a published report Sunday.
     The transaction would combine the nationwide wireless network of Bell Atlantic (BEL) with the United States' holdings of Vodafone Airtouch (VOD), the British company that is the world's largest provider of wireless communications, according to a report in the New York Times.
     An announcement could come as early as this week, the newspaper reported, citing people close to the talks, but the article cautioned there is no guarantee that the two sides will come to terms.
     The combination would give Bell Atlantic the national reach it has long sought to become a major player in the evolving wireless communications field. The regional telecom now operates primarily on the East Coast.
     In fact, Vodafone Plc beat out Bell Atlantic in January in bidding for Airtouch, a $60 billion transaction that created Vodafone Airtouch.
     Vodafone acknowledged last week that it was in talks with Bell Atlantic "to review a number of options," including a possible alliance on a mobile network.
     The talks have progressed since then, to consider details of the structure of a deal and who would run the combined company, the newspaper report said. It said Bell Atlantic probably would own 55 percent of the new company, with Vodafone owning the rest.
     Following publication of the Times article, Bell Atlantic issued a statement confirming that it is holding talks with Vodafone about establishing "a U.S. business relationship." The company gave no further details on any such relationship.
     Bell Atlantic stock closed Friday at 62-1/2, down 1/16. Vodafone Airtouch shares ended at 194-13/16, down 5-1/8. Back to top

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