MCI decides against AirTouch bid

MCI WORLDCOM, the US phone company, said last night it had decided against bidding for AirTouch Communications, the largest US mobile operator, which is also the subject of a bid from the UK mobile phone giant Vodafone.

"After reviewing the possibility of a combination with AirTouch, MCI WorldCom has determined not to pursue a bid at this time," the company said in a statement. It declined to say why it decided against bidding.

MCI WorldCom had previously made a verbal offer to buy AirTouch in a stock swap valued at less than the $54bn bid by Vodafone, sources close to the companies said.

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