Vodafone and Bell Atlantic, the rival bidders for US mobile operator Airtouch, are both prepared to increase their existing bids, according to reports.
Vodafone is believed to have discussed a cash and stock bid of around $55 billion for Airtouch last week, while Bell Atlantic made an earlier stock bid estimated at around $45 billion.
Yesterday, Bell Atlantic's chief executive James Cullen told US reporters he wanted to pay a fair price for Airtouch and beat Vodafone's offer by $2 per share. This would mean raising Bell Atlantic's offer by 27 per cent to around $95 per share.
Separately, Vodafone sources told reporters in London that the UK company was considering improving the price and management positions offered to Airtouch.
In a further development, Bell Atlantic is believed to have received a favourable accounting ruling from the US Securities and Exchanges Commission that will help it avoid a large accounting charge if it acquires Airtouch.
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