IDT details offer for WorldCom units, customer backup |  Networking

Former WorldCom President and Chief Executive Officer Bernard Ebbers resigned in late April and was succeeded by John Sidgmore, previously the vice chairman of WorldCom. WorldCom last week announced the firing of Chief Financial Officer Scott Sullivan and the resignation of Senior Vice President and Controller David Myers.

But Jonas contended that "upper management is the same, there are no new senior vice presidents there."

Jonas also rolled out several backup plans, what he called "stabilization plans," to ensure current WorldCom customers they would have services to fall back on should the company go out of business.

"We are interested in buying these businesses and we don't want to see them hemorrhaging customers" he said, adding that WorldCom customers are already flocking to IDT. IDT would want to seal a deal with WorldCom within six weeks, he said. Beyond that time, WorldCom might have far fewer customers, he said.

The stabilization plan has two parts:

--Customers of the MFS and Brooks units can supplement their current services with a backup service from IDT's WinStar wireless offering. The WinStar business would provide those MFS and Brooks customers with redundant voice and data connections should WorldCom stop operating. The cost of the redundant service would come to about 5 percent of these users' current service, IDT officials said.

--IDT will also offer MCI's consumer and small business long-distance customers special account numbers that will allow them access to the IDT long distance network. The customers can make use of the special accounts on an as-needed basis or completely switch over to IDT.

WorldCom, however, denied that its customers are leaving.

"They (IDT) have been saying our customers have been flocking to them but this is simply not true," said WorldCom's Moore. "We're simply not seeing customer defections. Our financial issues have no affect on our network operations."

Jonas said that WorldCom's Sidgmore had called him and left a message at 5 a.m. several days ago, after IDT's offer was first made public. "I'm not the world's most diligent CEO ... I was not there at the time," Jonas quipped. Since then, Jonas said, he has called Sidgmore, but has not been able to reach him.

"I think they're hiding from us," Jonas said.

WorldCom would not comment on specific barbs from Jonas, but at least one industry analyst said the IDT offer was not serious.

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