The deal's demise frees WorldCom and Sprint to seek other partners. WorldCom appears to be increasingly open to selling itself for the right price to suitors, including Germany's Deutsche Telekom AG. Deutsche Telekom is flirting with numerous U.S. phone concerns, including Sprint and VoiceStream Wireless Corp., but so far hasn't made a move on WorldCom.
According to a report in Thursday's Wall Street Journal, Ebbers said this week that he thinks Deutsche Telekom shouldn't overlook "the best company in the U.S."
People close to the company told the Journal that Ebbers is far from fully committed to selling. WorldCom is seen as being in a much stronger position to remain a successful stand-alone concern than Sprint.
But these people also say that Ebbers, as WorldCom's largest shareholder and one keenly attuned to the company's stock price, is committed to doing what's best for shareholders. There aren't many telecom companies in the world that could buy WorldCom, with a market value of $127 billion. Deutsche Telekom, with a market value of $171 billion, could be one. WorldCom executives have watched in frustration in the past year as the company's stock price has dropped as much as 30%, giving them much less currency to use for highly dilutive acquisitions.
But Deutsche Telekom might not be in a position to make such a hefty purchase. The German telecommunications company recently submitted a bid for highflying wireless operator VoiceStream, and while exact terms couldn't be learned, the Journal Tuesday cited people familiar with the matter as saying the offer could be worth significantly more than $40 billion.
(Compiled from Dow Jones Newswires and other sources)
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