APCO to assist WorldCom in transparency initiative

CLINTON, MS - WorldCom has retained APCO Worldwide as it copes with the fallout of its disclosure that $3.8bn (?2.4bn) in expenses had been improperly reported.

CLINTON, MS - WorldCom has retained APCO Worldwide as it copes with the fallout of its disclosure that $3.8bn (?2.4bn) in expenses had been improperly reported.

Since the scandal was made public, the company's message has focused on demonstrating its full cooperation with the authorities.

A little more than a week before the news broke, CEO John Sidgmore told shareholders the company was embracing a new commitment to communications. WorldCom had been plagued by growing debts and a stock price that has plunged from around $62 in April 1999 to $1.42 at press time.

APCO had already been in talks with WorldCom about its new PR strategy prior to the crisis. "The commitment initially was to being forthright, open and honest," said APCO CEO Margery Kraus. "That commitment has certainly increased because that is an important way for the company to operate."

Kraus explained that the company's task now is to be forthcoming with investigators, and to continue moving the business forward, while emphasizing that its current woes were the responsibility of the prior management team, led by former CEO Bernard Ebbers.

"It's a new person running the company, and his way of running it is to let people know what he knows, when he knows it," she said. "He wasn't CEO when these problems occurred, and he needs to be able to communicate his vision on how he plans to take it forward. Operating in an open fashion is part of that."

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