MCI telephone business doing its own spinoffs

MCI Telecommunications, the long-distance business of MCI Communications, is about to go through its own ''breakup.'' Yesterday MCI announced it is dividing that business into seven regional divisions. The divisions mirror exactly the boundaries of the seven regional companies that spun off from AT&T in January.

Susan Sheridan, an MCI spokeswoman, explained that MCI Telecommunications is ''decentralizing to get senior management closer to the marketplace.''

Each division will be run autonomously, Ms. Sheridan says, having its own president responsible for profits and losses as well as regional marketing and strategy decisions.

From a managerial standpoint, she adds, the new structure will make it easier for MCI to deal with ''equal access,'' the change in the way long-distance calls are made.

At present, MCI's long-distance business is divided up into 10 regions, each with its own manager. This creates an inefficiency in dealing with equal access and the seven regional telephone companies (such as Bell Atlantic and Pacific Bell).

The reorganization will take place starting Jan. 1, when MCI will also start its new fiscal year.

US deregulation produces consumer skepticism

Americans believe that the airlines, banks, and phone companies have benefited from deregulation but that individual consumers have not, according to a survey by Opinion Research Corporation.

According to the poll, a majority of the public - 85 percent in the telephone industry and 54 percent in the banking industry - believes average consumer costs stay the same or decrease as a result of deregulation.

Some 55 percent believe prices in the airline industry have stayed the same; only 37 percent think airline prices are lower. According to the poll, 45 percent of the public surveyed agree that ''deregu-lation has not been beneficial,'' compared with 44 percent who believe it has.

''This is not a favorable picture for the business community,'' says Dr. Shel Feldman, managing director of ORC's Public Opinion Index. ''Many who already subscribe to the negative stereotypes of big business have found reinforcement in what they perceive as the negative effects of deregulation.''

Timely change of the guard in family businesses

The most critical factor in transforming owner-managed firms into successful, professionally managed organizations is the timely withdrawal of the founder from active management of the company.

So concludes a new Conference Board study, which examined 20 major family-controlled businesses in the United States, Europe, and Latin America. Annual sales of these firms average over $100 million a year, and some exceed $1 billion.

The ''moment of truth'' for owner-operated firms, which account for more than 90 percent of all American companies, is the orderly transfer of management power from founders to professional, competent successors, who may or may not be members of the family.

While this ''letting go'' process is difficult and often traumatic, most founders say it is vital for business success and continuity, the study notes.

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