WorldCom Inc. and Sprint were not commenting on a published report that the European Union plans to block their $115 billion merger. The Washington Post said it had been told by EU officials that the decision likely will be adopted at the alliance's July 5 executive commission meeting. If the report is correct, analysts said the decision probably will finish the planned deal. The EU officials cited concerns that the merged company would control too much of the basic infrastructure that Internet users need to access the World Wide Web. EU approval of the merger, which was announced last Oct. 5, is needed because WorldCom has substantial assets in Europe that would not be easily split off from the rest of the company's global operations.
In a $3.5 billion stock and cash transaction, Alliance Capital Management announced it would buy Sanford C. Bernstein Inc., one of Wall Street's few remaining private investment banks. The deal will attempt to combine two different investment styles: Alliance's focus on expensive growth stocks and Sanford's expertise in picking beaten-down value stocks. The merger would create client assets of $475 billion and annual revenues of $3.2 billion, Alliance said. Alliance, based in New York, is controlled by the French financial services group AXA.
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