Cappellas says path ahead is clear

ORLANDO, FLORIDA (10/22/2003) - Michael Cappellas, chief executive officer of MCI, said the company is well on its way to emerging from bankruptcy, and provided a glimpse of its plans to move forward after that.

During a keynote speech at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Florida on Wednesday, Cappellas said the company has 99 percent of the vote on its bankruptcy plan. And MCI will have a hearing on Oct. 30, sometime after which the judge will make a ruling.

"We're pretty well on the way," Cappellas said. "The plan is solid. We're down to very minor objections."

Emerging from bankruptcy will be a big step for MCI toward gaining back public favor.

"There's no question that regaining public trust is our top priority. Do I think about that? You bet," he said.

Eric Paulek, a Gartner Inc. research director, said that as MCI gets back on its feet, some competitors are claiming that MCI will be in a position to undercut pricing as a result of the bankruptcy.

"We will compete, but we're not the ones [starting] the price war now," Cappellas said.

When asked his opinion on the recovery of the general economy, Cappellas said that one of the fascinating parts of his career is that he has gained a good grasp on what will happen at any given time during the next six months, and a reasonably clear picture of how things will be in five years.

"It's the time between that is a dark period," he said.

However, Cappellas said he believes that wireless, voice recognition, and peer-to-peer will spawn growth in the telecom sector.

He explained that MCI's immediate plans call for expanding its broadband footprint, investing in product development and internal IT.

"What is in the past is in the past, and we'll leave it in the past," he said.

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