December 1, 2002
WCG Appoints CEO, Emerges as
By Josh Long
WILLIAMS COMMUNICATIONS GROUP Inc. (WCG)
has appointed a new president and CEO after emerging from bankruptcy this fall.
It also has a new but familiar name: WilTel Communications Inc.
New chief executive Jeffrey K.
Storey also will serve on the board of directors. He was previously senior vice
president and CEO of the Williams network, a unit of WCG. Storey brings 20 years
of industry experience to WilTel’s top post. He succeeds WCG president and CEO
Howard Janzen, who resigned in the fall.
At the Williams network, Storey
oversaw all engineering and network operations, including network planning,
field operations and customer service.
WCG’s name change follows through on
a plan announced this summer. Industry veterans will remember the name; in 1985,
WilTel was formed when former energy parent the Williams Companies Inc. tapped
decommissioned pipelines to operate fiber-optic cables. In 1995 the original
WilTel network was sold to LDDS, now WorldCom Inc. In 1998 the Williams
Companies re-launched its telecom division as WCG, a national carrier’s carrier
that built out a 33,000-mile backbone network. It spun off from its parent in
April 2001 and reacquired the rights to the name WilTel this summer.
The name change and Storey’s
promotion are part of a fresh era for the company. This fall WilTel emerged from
bankruptcy virtually debt-free and with a new $375 million credit facility.
Leucadia National Corp., a New
York-based holding company involved in banking and lending, has invested $150
million in the new WilTel and also purchased the claims of the Williams
Companies for $180 million. Both transactions are pending federal regulatory
Leucadia will gain a 44 percent
equity stake in WilTel while unsecured creditors (owed approximately $2.5
billion) hold a 54 percent controlling interest in the carrier. Shareholders may
retrieve up to a 2 percent equity stake in WilTel through a court-approved
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