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Saturday, January 16, 1999 Published at 19:22 GMT

Business: The Company File

Mammoth mobile merger

Merged company will be world's biggest mobile concern

British mobile phone company Vodafone has completed a deal with US firm AirTouch which would create the world's largest cell phone company.

Juliet Gilkes: "This merger will create a company serving a more than billion people"
The news follows a two-week battle between Vodafone and the American giant Bell Atlantic.

AirTouch had fought off a take-over bid from Bell Atlantic and pulled out of merger talks after Vodafone offered more money. The British firm will pay around $56bn for Air Touch.

Patrick O'Connell reports on a "classic battle of the boardroom"
Experts predict the number of mobile phones will grow dramatically in the next four years.

The new company will have a market capitalisation of $110bn making it the third largest company listed on the UK FTSE 100 index.

Customers on four continents

The combined company, to be known as Vodafone AirTouch Plc, will reach nearly one billion people in 23 countries on four continents.

AirTouch shareholders will receive five ordinary Vodafone shares plus $9 in cash for each of their shares, said a joint statement released by the companies.

New York Business Correspondent Patrick O'Connell says that Vodafone wants to gain a foothold in the US market through the deal.

The two operators are also expected to complement each other in Europe, where Vodafone has a presence not only in Britain but throughout continental Europe.

The pair are already partners through GlobalStar, a satellite mobile communication company competing with Iridium, which has the only network currently in place.

AirTouch has some 7.5 million subscribers throughout the US.

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