After two weeks of high-profile wooing from multiple suitors, Vodafone has won the battle for US wireless giant AirTouch for $58 billion (#35 billion) in cash and stock.
The deal creates a global telecom wireless powerhouse with a combined market capitalisation of approximately $110 billion (#67 billion), analysts said.
Bell Atlantic called off negotiations with AirTouch, citing concerns that the merger might be too much for the carrier. MCI was also reportedly a bidder for AirTouch, though AirTouch denied this.
The new company, to be called Vodafone AirTouch, is expected to reach nearly one billion people in 23 countries. Corporate headquarters will be in Newbury, with US and Asia Pacific operations based in San Francisco.
Simon Weedon, analyst at Deutsche Bank, said: "For corporate cellular customers that do most of their business in the US, the deal will eventually provide seamless mobile coverage, so globe-trotting executives can stay in touch all over the world."
"It would be nice to have one phone that you can carry everywhere, but today that's not possible," said David Stewart, a network manager at Shell.
"Providing travelling executives with mobile phones that can operate worldwide is very expensive, since the phones must be compatible with both US standards and the Global System for Mobile Communications cellular technology used in the rest of the world."
That incompatibility is one issue that Vodafone and AirTouch expect to tackle once the merger is complete, sometime in the second half of the year.
The new company is aiming to provide cellular-based voice and data services as well as global paging and personal communications services. Satellite communications will be provided through interests owned by the companies in the international Globalstar satellite consortium.
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