Japan looks after its own in C&W bid

US and Japanese law firms are locking horns over a bid by UK-based Cable & Wireless (C&W) to buy Japanese-based International Digital Communications (IDC).

C&W has offered u347m in cash for IDC. But Nippon Telegraph and Telephone, Japan's largest telecoms operator, has put in a bid to buy the company in stocks and cash for less than is now being considered – five days before C&W's tender offer closes.

A source says: “The feeling is that the Japanese government wants IDC to stay Japanese. There have been various means employed to block out C&W.”

Japan signed the General Agreement on Trade and Services (GATS), which has an annex saying there must be “no limitations on market access”.

But the source says: “They are trying to bypass the annex. This is a legal battle with the Japanese.”

C&W's legal advisers – which include Robert Grondine at White & Case in Tokyo, Chris Lunding at Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, and Tokyo firm Tomotsune Kimura & Mitomi – refused to comment.

A C&W spokesman says: “We are disappointed with the situation.”