FRAMINGHAM (07/12/2000) - WorldCom Inc. CEO Bernie Ebbers pretty much admitted his company's deal with Sprint Corp. is dead.
Ebbers gave a speech Tuesday at the Wireless Communications Association conference, where an attendee asked if Ebbers could comment on the troubled proposed merger with Sprint. Ebbers replied, "No, there is nothing much left to discuss."
Ebbers went on to condemn federal officials for the number of approved mergers in the local telephone market. "The legacy of Janet Reno, Joel Klein and Bill Kennard will be the re-monopolization of local services for consumers," Ebbers said.
Regulators did approve WorldCom's 1998 merger with MCI Corp., but the two companies had to agree to concessions, specifically the sale of MCI's Internet business. Ebbers is questioning the ongoing mergers in the telecom market, with SBC Communication Inc. buying up Pacific Bell Corp. and then years later buying Ameritech Corp. Nynex and Bell Atlantic Corp. merged, and regulators recently allowed Bell Atlantic and GTE Corp. to merge.
The last question from the audience was: If WorldCom played politics a little better, would have the regulators approved its deal with Sprint? Ebbers replied, "Is the U.S. Department of Justice a political organization? If so, then they need to call it something else. I hope it's not a political organization, but I'd be happy to take some coaching on how to play the game better."
The Justice Department announced last month that it was filing suit to block WorldCom's $129 billion acquisition of Sprint.