Business & Finance

MCI, the long-distance telecommunications company that for months has swung between accepting takeover bids from Verizon and Qwest, appeared Monday to be leaning once again toward Verizon. This, after Verizon improved its offer from $7.8 billion to $8.44 billion on its final day to act in the bidding war. After twice committing itself to a merger with Verizon, MCI announced April 23 that it would instead accept Qwest's $9.9 billion offer, which was preferred by investors who hold the majority of its stock. On Sunday, however, an MCI spokesman suggested that the latest change was dictated by "a large number of [our] most important business customers" who "requested rights to terminate their arrangements" in the event of a deal with Qwest. Qwest has said its offer would be withdrawn by midnight Monday if not accepted.

Neiman Marcus, the luxury retailer famous for its high-end department stores and lavish Christmas catalogs, agreed to be acquired by private equity firms Texas Pacific Group and Warburg Pincus for $5.1 billion in cash. The deal includes 35 stores carrying the company's own name, two Bergdorf Goodman stores, and Horchow luxury home furnishings, as well as other holdings. Neiman Marcus is based in Dallas.

American International Group delayed for a third time in six weeks the release of its 2004 annual report and said it must restate its net worth because of accounting errors that date back five years. It said the latter will be lowered by about $2.7 billion - or $1 billion more than previously estimated. A spokesman acknowledged that auditor PricewaterhouseCoopers, which is examining the company's books, will issue an "adverse opinion" of its internal controls. AIG's stock has lost almost $60 billion worth of value since its problems - and investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission and New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer (D) - began making headlines in February, reported.

In a deal valued at $1.6 billion, toymaker Bandai Co. will acquire videogame manufacturer Namco Ltd. to try to cope better with intense global competition, they announced. Bandai is best known for its Power Rangers action figures and Tamagotchi virtual pet; Namco is the developer of Pac-Man. Both companies are Japanese.

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