Grok readers may be forgiven for feeling burned out on the telecom merger story. But it's impossible to avoid this morning. The NY Times on the Web led its top news page and top tech page with news of MCI WorldCom's triumph in the bidding war for Sprint (dossier). The Wall Street Journal did the same, sweetening the package with a sidebar on Sprint CEO William T. Esrey, who is poised to become chairman of the combined company.
Laura M. Holson and Seth Schiesel, writing for the Times, were alone in exploring the possible negative impact on BellSouth (BLS) of its failed bid. The reporters recounted the history of the bidding war for MCI, which WorldCom won two years ago, beating GTE (GTK). Then, GTE's sour-grapes defense was that it could make it alone. This time, it's BellSouth promising it will survive. The Journal gave a single sentence in the last graf to the possibility that BellSouth could walk away wounded.
The Washington Post's Peter S. Goodman noted persistent rumors yesterday of a friendly offer from Deutsche Telekom (DT), which owns 10 percent of Sprint. The Times had more to say about Sprint's foreign investors, giving a fly-on-the-wall view of the decisive board meeting last night, in which board members from both Deutsche Telekom and France Telecom (FTE) were invited to leave the room to avoid possible conflicts of interest.
The San Jose Mercury News apparently got caught crosswise of its deadline on the merger story. It ran an older iteration of the Post's coverage with the lede: "The bidding war... came to an apparent end Monday night."
The award for best soundbite goes to the Post's Goodman, who quoted Scott Cleland of Legg Mason (LM) Precursor Group: "WorldCom has finally digested MCI and is ready for its next meal."
MCI WorldCom, Sprint Confirm $129 Billion Merger
The Industry Standard
MCI Wins Bidding for Sprint
MCI WorldCom to Acquire Sprint in Stock Swap Valued at $108 Billion
New York Times
MCI WorldCom to Buy Sprint in Record $115 Billion Takeover
Wall Street Journal
Sprint CEO's Patience Pays Off as Company Is Poised to Be Sold
Wall Street journal