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Vodafone denies report of planned bid for Verizon

The Spokesman-Review

LONDON – Vodafone Group PLC on Monday denied a newspaper report it is considering making a $160 billion bid for its U.S. partner in the wireless phone business, Verizon Communications Inc.

The Financial Times reported earlier that the company was considering making an offer, but cautioned that a bid may not emerge. Any such deal would create a business worth about $300 billion.

But Vodafone said there were no such plans.

Any deal would be aimed at putting an end to speculation over Vodafone’s 45 percent stake in New Jersey-based Verizon Wireless, according to the newspaper. Vodafone has been under pressure from a group of shareholders to deliver better value from the venture.

The newspaper said Vodafone was considering spinning off Verizon’s wireline business to private equity buyers for about $90 billion, which would make it the largest leveraged buyout ever.

New York-based UBS analyst John Hodulik said that an offer by Vodafone would be “extremely difficult” to get past U.S. regulators, especially because Verizon is a major provider of telecom services to the U.S. government.

•McDonald’s Corp. said Monday it expects to post its second quarterly loss in more than 50 years because of a hefty one-time charge on the sale of some Latin American operations.

But the world’s biggest fast-food restaurant chain said its business is growing because of momentum from its popular breakfast menu.

McDonald’s said it expects to report a net loss of 60 cents a share when it releases second-quarter earnings July 24.

But excluding a $1.31-a-share charge for the sale in Latin America, McDonald’s said it likely would surpass Wall Street forecasts and earn 71 cents a share from continuing operations for the quarter ending June 30. That’s a 27 percent increase from the 56-cents-a-share profit it posted in 2006.

McDonald’s only other quarterly loss since it went public in the 1950s was during the fourth quarter of 2002 and was caused by a sales slump.

•The Chicago Tribune will join others in the struggling newspaper industry in selling front-page advertisements, a spokesman for the daily said Monday.

The Tribune also will run the 11/2-inch strip ads on the front of its sports and Tempo sections as part of an effort to generate more revenue, spokesman Mike Dizon said.

He said the ads will be unobtrusive and emphasized that the news will continue to be edited and presented independent of the advertising.

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