updated 3/23/2005 11:10:48 AM ET 2005-03-23T16:10:48

The board of MCI Inc., the long-distance phone company that is the target of competing takeover bids, reportedly plans to meet Wednesday to weigh the most recent buyout offer from Qwest Communications International Inc.

The Wall Street Journal, citing unidentified sources, reported the board was scheduled to meet to consider the $8.45 billion offer from Denver-based Qwest amid mounting pressure that directors at least declare that Qwest’s bid has the potential to be a superior deal.

The Journal said such a declaration would give MCI the authority to engage in further discussions with Qwest. Several issues between Qwest and MCI have yet to be resolved, the newspaper said.

The latest Qwest offer is valued at about 25 percent more than the $6.75 billion deal MCI struck with Verizon Communications Inc. last month. MCI has previously indicated it feels it long-term prospects would be brighter with the larger Verizon than with Qwest.

Even if the MCI board said Qwest’s bid could lead to a superior deal, that doesn’t mean the board ultimately would choose Qwest’s offer. Verizon also still could raise its bid closer to what Qwest is offering.

MCI, based in Ashburn, Va., said last week that it would respond to Qwest’s latest bid by March 28.

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