False story dogs WorldCom

WorldCom Inc., the Clinton, Miss., telecommunications and networking services giant that has been battered on Wall Street for months, is now fighting off rumors that it is in discussions with AT&T Corp. to be acquired.

A story is making the rounds on the Internet, supposedly released by Bloomberg News May 21, that John Sidgmore, the recently named president and chief executive officer of WorldCom, had announced the company was considering an offer from New York-based AT&T.

When asked about the report, WorldCom spokeswoman Natasha Haubold denied it and said the company had notified Bloomberg that the story is false.

Chris Taylor, a spokeswoman for Bloomberg, confirmed that WorldCom did contact the news organization regarding a fake story on the Web.

"We did our diligence, and both companies denied it," Taylor said, but Bloomberg did not know at first that the story was being attributed to its news service. "I forwarded it to [our] legal department."

AT&T spokesman Wayne Jackson said his company would not comment on the story.

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