WorldCom president resigns

WorldCom's embattled president and chief executive officer, Bernard Ebbers, has resigned.

WorldCom's embattled president and chief executive officer, Bernard Ebbers, has resigned.

Ebbers built up the US telecommunications company from a series of acquisitions, but the company's share price fell dramatically as questions emerged over WorldCom's long-term financial viability.

Ebbers has been replaced by John Sidgmore, previously the vice-chairman of WorldCom.

Earlier this month, WorldCom announced it was cutting 3,700 positions from its data services division in the US. This was only the latest in a series of job cuts over the past two years.

Investors, fearful of the potential for a massive bankruptcy, have fled WorldCom. The company owes $28bn (£19bn) in debts, with $4.5bn (£3bn) of that debt maturing in the next three years.

Meanwhile, long-distance revenue is deteriorating rapidly in the face of stiff competition from wireless service providers, Internet communication and local phone companies.

WorldCom is also facing a government probe into its accounting practices and acquisition strategy. It has yet to take a massive write-down in the value of its assets to keep in line with new accounting rules for evaluating assets following mergers. The writedown is expected to be between $15bn (£10bn) to $20bn (£13.7bn).

Ebbers has attracted numerous critics. The company lent him $366m (£251m) to keep him from selling stock to cover his losses as the share price fell in January. The SEC is also looking into the loan.

If WorldCom went up for sale now, it would be worth about $7bn (£4.8bn), a fraction of its value two years ago when the proposed merger with Sprint fell through because it faced an antitrust court battle.

The company's breakup value might be worth more than the sum of its parts, Cooperstein said. "They can't sell it now ... its value is too low."

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