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Sprint , WorldCom officially call it off

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Telecomms colossi WorldCom and Sprint have formally cancelled their proposed $120 billion merger as expected in response to considerable opposition from US and European regulatory bodies which attempted to block the deal two weeks ago on grounds that the merger would ruin competition (are you getting this, AOL and Time Warner?).

US Department of Justice (DoJ) antitrust heavyweight Joel Klein applauded the decision. "The merger would have led to higher prices, lower service quality and less innovation for millions of American consumers and businesses," he said by way of a prepared statement.

US analysts speculate that the decision renders both companies vulnerable to take-over bids from elsewhere, but Sprint's CEO rushed to deny it. "Sprint is not for sale," company President and CEO William Esrey declared flatly.

Deutsche Telekom, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone and France Telecom are seen as the prime secondary suitors for Sprint, though BellSouth could possibly give it a second go, after having bid unsuccessfully for Sprint last Fall.

Wall Street investors reacted to the news by bidding up shares of WorldCom 2-7/8 to 47-3/8 in very heavy midday trading, while Sprint shares slid 15/16 to 46-3/8. ®

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