Williams Cos. said Wednesday that LDDS Communications Inc., the nation's fourth-largest long-distance carrier, has offered to buy its telephone subsidiary for $2 billion.
Williams, which operates natural gas pipelines as well as a digital telecommunications network, said LDDS' unsolicited bid of cash, stock or both for the WilTel unit includes the assumption of the company's debt.
After the news was announced, Williams' stock closed $3.25 higher at $28.75 on the New York Stock Exchange. LDDS shares were up 25 cents at $23.75 in Nasdaq trading.
Williams said LDDS, based in Jackson, Miss., is already a large customer of WilTel and is negotiating a new long-term contract for lines it leases from the company.
The offers were contained in a letter LDDS filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Keith Bailey, president and chief executive officer of Williams, said in a statement that Williams is "comfortable continuing to own, operate and invest in WilTel."
But he added that Williams is considering the LDDS offer.