BT given green light for pounds 4.3bn US deal

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The Independent Online
AUTHORITIES in the US have given BT the go-ahead for its dollars 1bn joint venture with MCI, the third largest long-distance telephone company in the US.

The British company expects final regulatory approval within weeks for the dollars 4.3bn acquisition of a 20 per cent stake in MCI.

The clearance by the Department of Justice follows the announcement on Tuesday by France Telecom and Deutsche Telekom that they will pay dollars 4.2bn for a 20 per stake in Sprint, one of MCI's rivals. That deal will also have to have European and US approval.

The BT-MCI joint venture, Concert, will offer integrated communications services to businesses around the world.

BT said yesterday that First Data Corporation and Holiday Inn Worldwide were among the first customers.

Concert will also take on customers from BT's existing Syncordia arm, which manages communications networks for companies.

Michael Hepher, BT's group managing director, said that the market for business communications, including voice, data, video and value-added services, was worth billions of pounds.

Gerald Taylor, president of MCI, said more than half of all multinationals had headquarters in Britain or the the US, giving Concert a good marketing edge.

Concert customer support centres have been set up in Paris, London, Sydney, Tokyo and Carey, North Carolina.

The Paris centre can cope with inquiries in 15 European languages.

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