CLINTON — It was the deal that just quite isn’t. WorldCom’s $129-billion acquisition of Sprint couldn’t clear the anti-trust, government-regulatory, consumer-advocacy hurdles thrown up since the announcement of the deal months ago.
The news came to me via an e-mail bulletin from a Web site: one paragraph announcement from the companies. Short, simple, not so sweet if you were pulling for the very big telecommunications deal which would have further thrust the Mississippi-based WorldCom into a role as one of the giants in the New Economy.
But, goin’ global just didn’t quite make it — globally: “WorldCom and Sprint announced today that, in light of the announcement by the U.S. Department of Justice that it had filed suit to block their proposed merger, they have withdrawn their proposed undertakings and merger notification previously filed with the European Commission. If, in the future, the parties decide to proceed with the merger, they will make such notifications as are appropriate under European merger laws.”
The announcement, which wasn’t a surprise to many folks, had been building at a rapid pace the last few weeks. From The Clarion-Ledger to The Washington Post to the BBC, intense media scrutiny of the historic — and increasingly controversial — deal dominated business coverage in newspapers, Web sites and TV.
It began with the European Union’s competition commissioner telling Reuters June 27 that he would recommend the EU oppose the merger proposal.
A day later in last Tuesday’s Washington Post, sources close to the deal asserted that the companies would withdraw the proposal rather than face EU rejection.
And so it went. The “knowledgeable, unnamed sources” were right.
Don’t plan on the coverage— or the speculation — ending any time too soon. Whatever happens to WorldCom and Sprint, whether they merge or not, there is no doubt that both companies will play important roles in the hyper-fast future of business.
And that’s the speed we’re moving at these days. Dot-com this, DSL that. Convergence. Community. Content. Connection. Whatever business you happen to be in — paper or plastics, widgets or Web sites — you’re working that 24/7 clich