MCI SWINGS LAYOFF AX TO BRACE FOR FUTURE

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Bracing for inevitable changes in telecommunications competition as Congress hammers out new rules, No. 2 long-distance carrier MCI last week moved to become leaner and meaner.

MCI said it's laying off 3,000 people, or 7.1% of its 42,000-member work force, as part of a restructuring resulting in consolidation of aspects of its business and consumer long-distance operations.

Eliminated will be marketing, administrative and back-office functions across the board. But a spokesman said no cutbacks are planned in marketing spending.

He also denied rumors that more layoffs will be announced in upcoming weeks.

The layoffs come just as MCI reported record second-quarter earnings of $260 million, up 21% from the same period a year ago; MCI predicts a third-quarter loss to accommodate pretax charges.

The company also named Timothy F. Price, 42, to the new post of president-chief operating officer of MCI Telecommunications Corp.; he previously was exec VP of MCI's Friends & Family consumer long-distance discount program.

MCI also said it's considering separate stock offerings for spinoffs of some of its newest ventures, such as its MCI Metro local phone business.

Separately, MCI said it's reached a definitive agreement with Rupert Murdoch's News Corp. for a $1 billion joint venture investment in the world's largest global media company, announced last spring.

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