Leap Wireless spurns takeover

California-based Leap Wireless International rejected a $4.7 billion takeover bid by larger rival MetroPCS Communications. Leap and Dallas-based MetroPCS offer prepaid wireless services to customers with poor or no credit. Leap said the mostly stock offer undervalued the company and failed to include a plan to integrate the two companies. MetroPCS mostly provides service in large metro areas. (MarketWatch) Leap, whose brands include Cricket, serves suburban and rural areas, too. MetroPCS CEO Roger Linquist said that Leap was being unreasonable and “ignoring the will of its shareholder base.” (Bloomberg)

British lender faces bank run

British depositors withdrew more than $4 billion from home lender Northern Rock since Friday, sending the British firm’s shares down 34 percent this morning. Northern Rock’s shares dropped 31 percent on Friday after Britain’s central bank offered to bail out the country’s No. 5 mortgage lender, which is having problems borrowing due to the U.S. subprime meltdown. (Reuters) Analysts said that the the mortgage bank would likely be sold off or split apart. “We think the game is over for Northern Rock in its present form,” said Merrill Lynch analyst John-Paul Crutchley. (Bloomberg)

Labels toy with ‘free’ music services

As the music industry strives to deal with online music sharing, Universal Music Group is backing SpiralFrog-dot-com. Ad-supported SpiralFrog, set to launch today, offers free music from Universal artists to subscribers who agree to divulge their buying habits. “This is very similar to TV: You get it for free and the advertisers pay the money,” says SpiralFrog investor Scott Stagg. The songs can’t be played on iPods or burned onto CDs. (Los Angeles Times, free registration required) Another service, AmieStreet, backed by Amazon, offers songs that start off free but move up to 98 cents as they become popular. (The Washington Post)

Church and state and elves

The Supreme Court of the Philippines fired trial court Judge Florentino Floro, who says he regularly consults with three invisible elves, after determining that Floro suffers from psychosis. A year later, Floro is a national celebrity and Supreme Court members and their families are reportedly becoming seriously ill and getting in car accidents. And a number of Filipinos apparently agree with Floro that his relationship with the elves—Angel, Armand, and Luis—has no bearing on his work. “It shouldn't matter what I believe in, whether it’s Jesus, Muhammad, or Luis, Armand, and Angel,” Floro says. (The Wall Street Journal)