EC Delays Decision on MCI, Sprint Merger

BRUSSELS (04/04/2000) - The European Commission has delayed its decision on whether to authorize the merger of Sprint Corp. and MCI WorldCom Inc. by a week until July 11, a Commission spokesman said today.

The delay follows a request from the Commission for further information from both Sprint and MCI WorldCom in relation to their planned US$118 billion merger.

The European body decided in February to open an in-depth antitrust investigation into the planned merger to determine whether the venture complies with European Union rules which ban the creation or reinforcement of dominant market positions, according to Michael Tscherny, European Commission spokesman for competition. [See "EU Deepens MCI WorldCom-Sprint Probe," Feb. 21.]The primary focus of the body's investigation is directed at the Internet backbone business where there are only a handful of other global providers.

MCI WorldCom offered to divest itself of Sprint's Internet backbone services, but this suggestion has proved insufficient to quell all the Commission's fears about the elimination of competition between MCI and Sprint in this field.

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