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In the papers 01 August
Thursday, August 01 2002
by Sylvia Leatham

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Former WorldCom execs are expected to face charges from US prosecutors soon | France Telecom is getting closer to an agreement to take over MobilCom

According to the Irish Independent, the government seems to have removed most of the details on its Web site concerning the completion of the EUR52 billion National Development Plan. Up to the start of the year, it was possible to see the initial tracking system on health, education, public transport and roads projects on the site, but the information was removed in the run-up to the general election. The relevant section of the site on now reads: "This section is currently under construction and will be fully operational in late-spring 2002."

The paper also reports that German PC sales were better than expected in the second quarter, according to research firm IDC. PC sales fell just 0.2 percent in Q2 from the same period the previous year. The market was aided by stronger notebook sales. IDC also released figures for Spain, showing a decline of 6 percent in PC sales.

The paper also reports that Sky satellite has added up to 1,000 new Irish customers a week to its digital subscription-based television service, according to the company's year-end results. Read the full story on ElectricNews.net.

The same paper also says that Riverdeep's reporting of its first ever full-year profit did little to boost the company's sagging share price on Wednesday. Read more about Riverdeep's results on ElectricNews.net.

According to the Financial Times, France Telecom is getting closer to an agreement to take over MobilCom after the German mobile operator's four main banks conditionally agreed to restructure EUR4.7 billion of its debt. MobilCom said its creditors had decided to roll over the debt for a further two months, pending a resolution of the dispute with its French partner. France Telecom confirmed it would assume responsibility for the debt and released details of an agreement to convert it into quasi-equity.

The paper also reports that United Microelectronics, the world's second-largest producer of made-to-order chips, has cut its 2002 capital expenditure and forecast a fall in third-quarter wafer shipments. The cuts followed similar moves by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing, the biggest foundry contract chipmaker, which last week predicted a third-quarter "pause" in the industry's revival. UMC said it would cut 2002 capital expenditure by USD300 million to USD1.3 billion, maintaining spending on its latest 300 mm fabrication plant but trimming expansion at less advanced 200 mm fabs.

The same paper reports that Adam Singer has been forced to resign from the board of debt-laden UK cable operator Telewest. Telewest's non-executive directors, including chairman Cob Stenham, replaced Singer with Charles Burdick, finance director. Burdick is regarded as a more suitable leader for the group as it approaches a restructuring of its STG5.4 billion debt. Singer's departure increased speculation that the restructuring of the group's balance sheet was imminent, as he was understood to be opposed to an immediate deal with creditors.

The Wall Street Journal reports that two of WorldCom's former top financial officers are expected to be charged by federal prosecutors as early as Thursday for their roles in the company's USD3.8 billion accounting scandal. Scott Sullivan and David Myers are expected to be charged with securities, wire and mail fraud. Sullivan, widely regarded as the architect of the alleged fraud, could face a sentence of as much as 15 years if convicted, according to people familiar with the matter.

Meanwhile, the paper also says that WorldCom and Cingular Wireless have reached a proposed agreement about the future of WorldCom's wireless customers on Cingular's network. WorldCom has already reached transfer agreements with a number of other wireless carriers, including AT&T Wireless Services and Verizon Wireless, agreeing to provide information to its customers about signing up with other carriers in order to avoid a disruption in service. Carriers have agreed to pay fees to WorldCom for customers they successfully sign up. A Cingular representative said under the agreement, Cingular would obtain the reseller-customer database from WorldCom. Neither WorldCom nor Cingular would disclose the dollar terms of the agreement, which still requires the approval of the US Bankruptcy Court.

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