UUNET SAYS ITS FUTURE ASSURED BY PARENT MCI

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Network service provider UUNet SA says it has been given assurances that it will remain a small but essential offshoot of its parent company, MCI, which finally emerged from chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Tuesday.

MCI previously traded as WorldCom, and filed for protection from its creditors amid an $11bn accounting scandal and debts of 41bn. WorldCom paid the US Securities and Exchange Commission a $500m settlement for misrepresenting its results, and has emerged from a tortuous two-year reorganisation freed of $35bn in debt. It has trimmed its workforce from 70000 people to 50000, and axed about 100 executives implicated directly or indirectly in the scandal.

Its wholly owned subsidiary, UUNet SA, was not under bankruptcy protection and continued to operate as normally as it could. But questions about the survival of its parent must have dented its ability to win new customers. Anxieties about its future also let Telkom make a pitch for UUNet’s 150 corporate clients that rely on the internet to do business.

The company now has a temporary head, Carl Roberts, MCI’s Paris-based chief of staff for Europe, the Middle East and Africa .

During an international conference call on Tuesday, MCI president and CEO Michael Capellas said the company would put a strong emphasis on global activities as many emerging countries offered profitable growth opportunities. That would include expansion in the European, Middle Eastern and African region, which currently earns $3bn, or 12,5%, of its global revenue.

Business Day