WorldCom plans to appeal EU’s Sprint merger block

WorldCom Inc. will file an appeal to the European Commission’s ruling blocking the telecommunication giant’s US$115-billion acquisition of Sprint Corp., a company spokesman confirmed Thursday.

“We intend to appeal on substantive and procedural grounds,” said WorldCom spokesman Peter Lucht. “This is not about the Sprint merger, this about setting the record straight.”

Sprint spokesman James Fisher said the company was aware of the Sept. 28 appeal filing deadline, but had no other comment on WorldCom’s decision to appeal.

WorldCom must file its complaint with the EU’s Court of First Instance in Luxembourg. The EU Commission blocked the merger in late June, suggesting that it would make customers and ISPs (Internet service providers) reliant on the new company for Internet access capabilities.

At the time, European Competition Commissioner Mario Monti said the Commission found the merger “would have led to the creation of a company with a dominant position over the provision of global Internet backbone services.”

Similarly, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) did not take kindly to the merger proposal. DOJ officials filed suit in July, alleging the merger would reduce competition and prompt higher prices for millions of businesses and consumers. Soon after, WorldCom and Sprint announced that their marriage was off.

Fisher at Sprint on Thursday said that the Westwood, Kansas-based telecommunications company still was not for sale and was not seeking a suitor. During June, Deutsche Telekom AG was rumored to be developing a $100 billion package to grab Sprint. Deutsche Telekom later announced plans to buy VoiceStream Wireless Corp. for an estimated $50 billion. That deal is undergoing U.S. regulatory scrutiny.

WorldCom, in Jackson, Miss., can be reached at Sprint, in Westwood, Kans., can be reached at