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Williams Communications Mulls Chapter 11 Filing

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In a turnaround,

Williams Communications

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said it is considering a bankruptcy filing to restructure its balance sheet.

A filing would have implications for

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Williams Cos.

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, which spun off the Communications unit last year. Williams Cos. has said in the past that it could be responsible for some of its former unit's liabilities.

The high-speed network operator said it is in talks with banks to restructure its debt, but must consider bankruptcy because other lenders are unlikely "to participate in the restructuring process on terms that are beneficial to all stakeholders of the company."

Williams said it might "pursue that alternative if it believes it will allow for a more orderly process that maximizes enterprise value. The expanded options now being considered could potentially result in substantial shareholder dilution." Williams said it plans to reduce its current cost structure by about 25%, including layoffs.

Williams said it had over $1 billion in cash as of Dec. 31, 2001, and that it is current on its obligations.