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Equant Soars on Reported Interest from France Telecom, Global Crossing

Updated from 7:39 a.m. EDT

Shares in Dutch telecom company Equant NV (ENT) jumped today following a report it was the object of affection for two large telecommunications companies.

Both France Telecom (FTE) and U.S.-based Global Crossing (GBLX) have their eyes on Equant, which could sell for as much as $10 billion, according to a report in Tuesday's Wall Street Journal.

Shares in Equant were up 6 7/16, or 15%, to 48 13/16 in afternoon trading Tuesday. (They finished up 6 3/4, or 16%, at 49 1/8.)

According to the report, the more likely scenario is France Telecom buying Equant. France Telecom had an exclusive right to negotiate with Equant, but it recently expired.

Equant, whose market capitalization was around $8.5 billion before today's run-up, owns a 50-year-old airline-reservation system and now offers other high-speed telecommunications services. Equant aims to provide private communications networks to companies with subsidiaries scattered around the globe.

France Telecom recently announced a $47.89 billion buyout of British mobile phone company Orange.

Ian McLean, a spokesman for Global Crossing in the Bahamas, declined to comment. Similarly, a spokesman for Equant said the company did not comment on "market rumors." A representative from France Telecom could not be immediately reached.

Shares in Global Crossing lately slipped 5/8, or 2%, to 28. France Telecom was up 15/16, or 1%, to 153 7/8. (Global Crossing ended down 1/16, or 0.2%, at 28 9/16. France Telecom ended up 2 1/2, or 2%, at 155 7/16.)

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