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RealTime IT News

WorldCom Drops Layoff Bomb

WorldCom, Inc. made its much anticipated layoffs late Wednesday afternoon, slashing approximately 6,000 jobs, as the voice and data giant prepares to restructure. The 6 percent reduction in the company's 77,000 U.S. workforce was considerably less than the 15 percent estimates that drifted through the industry in January.

Company officials did not return telephone inquiries from dc.internet.com, but it is rumored that some 400 of the job cuts will be in the Washington, D.C., area, where WorldCom has more than 10,000 employees.

Created by an aggressive merger policy that has taken over about 60 companies in a quest to become a full-service telecommunications provider, the Clinton, Miss.-based WorldCom was forced into a restructuring plan last year when the Justice Department and European authorities quashed the company's planned merger with Sprint Corp.

The merger would have given WorldCom an entrie into the wireless industry and expanded its base of residential customers. Instead, the company has decided to focus on its business services division and UUNet, its Internet backbone network based in Ashburn, Va.

To jumpstart the plan, WorldCom announced in November it would separate its lagging residential long distance service the Washington, D.C.-based MCI Communications Corp. it acquired three years ago for $40 billion and renamed MCI WorldCom -- from its more lucrative data and Internet services by creating a different stock to track MCI's fortunes.

Although WorldCom cut some 2,300 jobs after its 1998 acquisition of MCI, the company had a reputation for rarely laying off workers. Increased long distance competition and pricing pressure, however, has forced WorldCom to follow industry trends to salvage its slumping stock price, which was trading at $16.63 per share in after hours trading. WorldCom's has a 52-week high of $52.50 a share.

WorldCom maintains a Web site at http://www.wcom.com