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WorldCom Hires Turnaround Experts

July 30, 2002|ELIZABETH DOUGLASS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

WorldCom Inc. on Monday added two turnaround specialists to its executive team to help the phone company recover from the nation's largest bankruptcy filing.

In other developments Monday, WorldCom said it soon will transfer its wireless customers to other carriers, and said its two stocks would be removed from the Nasdaq stock market as of the opening of trading today.

The Clinton, Miss.-based company, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection July 21, said shares representing its MCI consumer long-distance telephone business will trade under the new symbol MCWEQ, and the core WorldCom shares will trade as WCOEQ.

To help turn the telecommunications giant around, WorldCom hired Gregory F. Rayburn as chief restructuring officer, and John S. Dubel as chief financial officer. Both men are executives at the restructuring firm AlixPartners and, pending U.S. Bankruptcy Court approval, will report to John W. Sidgmore, WorldCom's chief executive since the ouster in April of longtime CEO Bernard J. Ebbers.

"Their task will be to support our efforts to emerge from reorganization as quickly as possible with a healthy business," Sidgmore said. He said the pair will negotiate with creditors, evaluate proposals, distribute key information to stakeholders and review the potential sale of assets.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court named 15 members Monday to the primary creditors' committee in the WorldCom case. The committee, which will help make critical decisions about restructuring proposals, is dominated by holders of WorldCom bonds, but also includes representatives from hedge funds, bond trustees, insurance companies and creditors representing suppliers.

Sidgmore told the group he will work with them "to put together a plan that's totally believable and powerful."

In a separate development, WorldCom said it has signed agreements to transfer customers of its wireless business to rivals AT&T Wireless Services Inc., Verizon Wireless, Alltel Corp. and another carrier that will be determined later.

WorldCom, which resells service from other carriers under its own brand name, said in June that it would leave the business, which was not profitable. The company struck the deals before its bankruptcy filing, and said it will receive a small amount of money in the transactions.

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