Embattled WorldCom Inc. President and CEO Bernard Ebbers called it quits today, stepping down from the top spot in the company he founded more than 20 years ago. The move comes as WorldCom faces increased scrutiny over past deals and as Ebbers himself is mired in controversy over a $360 million personal loan from the company.
Ebbers will be replaced by longtime WorldCom Vice Chairman and former UUNet Technologies Inc. head John Sidgmore, according to company officials. The changes are effective immediately.
In a statement announcing his resignation, Ebbers said he was "confident that WorldCom will continue to lead the industry, setting the standards others will follow."
"Over the past years I have had the honor of leading thousands of talented and innovative WorldCom colleagues in this dynamic industry and we have many great accomplishments to show for our work together," Ebbers said.
Sidgmore also issued a statement Monday, acknowledging that "our industry has been buffeted by the economic downturn in recent months.
"WorldCom is well positioned to capitalize on an economic upturn. Our low cost structure, our strengths in offering service to every level of the enterprise market and to consumers, and our solid financial foundation—built on our free cash flow production—position us to attack the marketplace with exceptional force," Sidgemore added.
Sidgmore served as vice chairman of WorldCom since 1996, having served as the Clinton, Miss., carriers chief operations officer from December 1996 to September 1998, according to company officials. Sidgmore previously served as president of MFS Communications Co. as well as president and CEO of UUNet. UUNet was purchased by WorldCom in 1996.
WorldCom officials also announced Monday that Scott Sullivan will take the role of executive vice president and chief financial officer. Ronald Beaumont is now chief operating officer overseeing operations for both the WorldCom group and the MCI group. Wayne Huyard remains chief operating officer of MCI group, reporting to Beaumont, officials said.
Sullivan has been a director of WorldCom since 1996 and has served as chief financial officer, treasurer and secretary of WorldCom since December 1994. Beaumont most recently served as chief operating officer of the WorldCom group. Previously he served as president and CEO of WorldComs Operations and Technology division. He also served as president and chief executive officer of MFS Telecom.