Britain Rings Up Japan; Telecom Takeover A First

In a first, a British firm has taken control of a Japanese telecom carrier. Britain's Cable & Wireless PLC (C&W) has won a 97.69% equity stake in Japan's International Digital Communications Inc. (IDC) after a fierce takeover battle with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NTT). Long dominant in Japan, NTT had fought intensely to secure ownership of IDC, a second-tier international phone company, pushing the price per share offer up to about $930 a share (110,577 yen), well above the face value of about $420 (50,000 yen). NTT backed out after five weeks saying the price was too high. Analysts suggest NTT had been looking for political support, which failed to materialize, to back its bid. Competition in Japan's telecom market is intensifying, particularly in providing services to corporate clients and large-capacity data transmission. C&W previously held equal stakes in IDC of 17.68% along with Japan's Toyota Motor Corp. and trading company Itochu Corp. C&W's move reflects growing penetration of the Japanese market by foreign firms. Earlier this year French auto maker Renault SA bought 37% of Nissan Motor Co. Ltd., Japan's second-largest car maker. General Electric Co., of the U.S., has been buying into a number of financial firms, including the domestic arm of Japan Leasing Corp., the bankrupt arm of the collapsed Long Term Credit Bank of Japan Ltd. C&W is to integrate its Japan operations over the next few months, renaming IDC as Cable & Wireless IDC, and investigating other investments, notably in Japan's domestic telecom sector.

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