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British telecommunications firm Cable & Wireless PLC is considering acquiring Internet Initiative Japan Inc., sources said Thursday.

C&W hopes to launch new telecommunications services based on Internet protocols, banking on the Tokyo-based Internet access provider’s expertise, the sources said.

But some 30 major shareholders in IIJ — including NTT Communications Corp. and trading companies Itochu Corp. and Sumitomo Corp. — oppose C&W’s acquisition attempt.

The shareholders, 20 firms and 10 individuals that together hold 51 percent of IIJ, exchanged notes earlier this month pledging not to sell their IIJ stakes for the time being, the sources said.

In June 1996, C&W beat Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. in the race to acquire International Digital Communications Inc., a Japanese international telephone service provider.

IDC, renamed Cable & Wireless IDC Inc., offers long-distance and international telephone services in Japan.

Officials at Cable & Wireless IDC in Japan said Thursday that they have received no word from their parent office regarding the reported takeover bid and that they are unaware of such moves.

IIJ, one of the nation’s leading commercial Internet services, listed on the U.S. Nasdaq market in August 1999

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