Business & Finance

Vodafone, the world's largest cellphone service provider, is preparing a campaign to convince investors that it should join the bidding for AT&T Wireless, the Observer (London) reported. AT&T Wireless has acknowledged it is exploring merger possibilities with other communications companies. Rival Cingular already has bid a reported $30 billion in cash, and other potential bidders are expected to include Nextel Communications and NTT DoCoMo of Japan. The London newspaper said it has learned that Vodafone may match the Cingular offer, although it would need to sell its minority stake in Verizon Wireless to satisfy regulators.

An offer valued at $4.1 billion in cash was made by Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria (BBVA), Spain's second-largest financial-services group, for the remaining stock it does not already own in Bancomer of Mexico. If successful, the deal would make BBVA Mexico's largest bank, ahead of Citigroup, which owns Banco Nacional de Mexico. BBVA bought majority control of Bancomer for $2.5 billion four years ago.

Two of the world's largest security-services companies, Securicor PLC and Group 4 Falck, confirmed that they're discussing a merger, the Financial Times and Dow Jones news service reported. Terms were not disclosed, but Group 4's market capitalization is reported to be $1.9 billion, compared with $1.4 billion for Securicor, and a combined company would have annual sales in the range of $6.7 billion. The industry leader is Securitas AB of Sweden. Group 4 Falck is based in Copenhagen, Denmark, and specializes in cash-protection, alarm, and rescue services. Securicor, of Sutton, England, supplies private security guards, operates prisons, and provides electronic inmate-tracking systems. The security industry has been consolidating in recent years, most recently with the $1.9 billion acquisition last June of Britain's Chubb PLC by US conglomerate United Technologies.

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