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February 15, 1989


By CBR Staff Writer

British Telecommunications Plc and Judge Greene between them have subjected shareholders in Mobile Communications Corp of America to agonising and miserable experience. British Telecom’s part in the sad saga was to pay between $140 and $150 per head of population in the licence catchment areas for its 22% stake in McCaw Cellular Communications Inc, while Judge Greene’s offence is that he has been sitting on a request for waiver to allow BellSouth Corp to acquire Mobile since last September. BellSouth, which won recommended agreement for acquisition of the Jackson, Mississippi cellular telephone franchise holder as long ago as last February, agreed the then going rate for cellular firms of $70 per pop, which after the British Telecom-McCaw deal is as nostalgic as the prices on a 1935 menu at the Trump Plaza or the going rate for a two-bedroom Mayfair flat in 1976. If Judge Greene had nodded the thing through expeditiously – and BellSouth has done everything necessary to structure the deal in such a way as to make approval a near-certainty – no-one would now have felt too aggrieved, but as it is, Mobile shareholders are sitting on paper that, unencumbered, could be worth as much as $50 a share against the $32 a share perceived value in the agreed bid terms. And, reports the Wall Street Journal, some risk arbitrageurs are gambling on some way being found to unscramble what looks a watertight deal with BellSouth that they are prepared to buy Mobile shares at up to a buck above the agreed bid price.

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