MCI ( MCIAV) emerged from Chapter 11 protection Tuesday with promises to radically remake a shifting telecom landscape. The company, which was once known as WorldCom before it was brought down in the nation's largest-ever bankruptcy case,
filed papers last month to set the record straight on some $74 billion in false profits in the 2000-2002 period. Meanwhile, federal securities fraud charges are pending against founder and longtime CEO Bernie Ebbers. MCI, now under the leadership of former Compaq chief Michael Capellas, said Tuesday it would focus on the Internet protocol business that is reshaping the telecom industry. The company said that in the upcoming weeks and months, MCI will roll out new products, services and partnerships that will "extend its IP leadership position." "Despite seismic shifts in the telecom industry, Internet usage is still increasing, people are communicating more often and in more ways and computing and communications are converging," the Ashburn, Va., company said. "This convergence unquestionably plays to MCI's core strengths." Industry analysts aren't quite so sure, pointing out that big service providers are seeing eroding revenue and increasing incursions from wireless use. Still, MCI will be a formidable competitor to debt heavy big-telco rivals. WorldCom was a fast-growing stock market favorite throughout the 1990s, but last month's filings made it crystal clear that the company's financial foundation was never as stable as tech-happy investors believed. Those filings came just a week after federal prosecutors charged Ebbers, the longtime former CEO of the onetime telecom highflier, and ex-financial chief Scott Sullivan with three counts each of securities fraud, conspiracy and making false statements. The government alleges that the men conspired to deceive investors about WorldCom's true financial health. Sullivan pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate with federal prosecutors. Ebbers pleaded innocent and is free on bail, though his travel is restricted to three states and Washington, D.C. On Tuesday, MCI pledged to move past its checkered past, saying that it emerges with a strong enterprise customer base, retaining all of its largest corporate customers as well as signing many new accounts. The revamped MCI emerges with about $5 billion in debt and more than $6 billion in cash, Reuters reported, giving it a stronger position than many of its competitors wanted it to have after the WorldCom scandal. "Our emergence is not the finish line -- it's the beginning of a new race," said Capellas. "Somewhere between telecommunications and computing there's a new kind of company, and that's what MCI will be."