France Telecom buys Global One from DT, Sprint

France Telecom has won the bidding for control of Global One, its alliance with Deutsche Telekom and Sprint.

Deutsche Telekom will receive $US2.76 billion for its 29.2 per cent share in the venture, the German carrier said in a statement issued this evening. France Telecom will also pay off $188.5 million in debt that Deutsche Telekom has outstanding in connection with the venture.

The funds will go toward acquisitions or purchases of stakes in companies outside of Germany, part of its internationalisation strategy, Deutsche Telekom said.

France Telecom could not be immediately reached for comment.

The news follows Sprint's announcement earlier today that it would sell its share in Global One to its remaining partners for $1.13 billion in cash and have $276 million in debt repaid, a transaction it expects to complete over the next few months.

When Sprint announced the transaction, however, it did not specify which of the two partners would be buying its share.

A transition agreement between the three partners also calls for customers of Deutsche Telekom and Sprint who depend on Global One's international services to receive them for at least another two years.

It has long been known that the three carriers planned to dissolve their global alliance, and Sprint's planned merger with MCI WorldCom Inc., announced in October, accelerated those plans. What was not totally clear was who would buy the Reston, Virginia-based venture, which provides international voice and data services to corporate customers.

Last week, however, Deutsche Telekom confirmed that it and France Telecom would name a price to determine the new owner of Global One, with the prize going to the highest bidder.

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