Telefonica: If At First A Deal Falls Through...

The former monopoly has new allies in MCI and WorldCom

Juan Villalonga, the youthful chairman of Telefonica de Espana, puffs long cigars while he's cutting deals. And for the past year, his art deco office on Madrid's Gran Via has been thick with fumes. Villalonga has sought global allies since Spain's former monopoly finished privatizing with a $4.4 billion stock offering in early 1997. Now, it looks as if Telefonica has the deal it needs: On Mar. 9, Villalonga announced that it will forge strategic links with soon-to-be-merged MCI Communications Corp. and WorldCom Inc. "The sky's the limit," Villalonga beamed.

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