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Global Crossing to trade on OTCBB; accounting eyed

Wed, 01/30/2002 - 7:00pm
Anne Kerven

Make that OTCBB: GBLXQ. On the heels of its Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing and amid reports of warnings last year on its accounting practices, Global Crossing started trading today on the OTC Bulletin Board.

Formerly NYSE: GX, Global Crossing announced its new ticker and exchange late yesterday.

On Monday, the company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States and Bermuda, and announced a restructuring that included a $750 million infusion from two Asian companies. Global Crossing reported $12.3 billion in debt and $22.4 billion in assets, securing it a spot as one of the country's largest bankruptcies and leading to questions about the state of the fiber optic industry.

But the company reportedly had been warned of aggressive accounting practices less than six months ago, the Associated Press reports. Roy Olofson, then VP of finance, wrote to Global Crossing's top attorney in August regarding inflated revenue and cash flow in the company's accounting. The attorney left the company days later, AP reports, and Olofson was later laid off. Global Crossing said that the charges were baseless and the attorney's departure unrelated.

Separately, Gartner Group warns of more changes at Global Crossing.

"Global Crossing's Chapter 11 filing and proposed $750 million infusion should reassure customers," the research firm says in a First Take. "But the firm needs further restructuring, so customers should have backup plans and exercise caution in signing contracts." Gartner suggests not committing to contracts longer than a year and including clauses allowing a customer to terminate the contract if Global Crossing changes owners or if its value falls.

Gartner says it forecast a Global Crossing bankruptcy or restructuring by mid-1001, and calls the most recent deal an interim solution.

The company's global expansion as a network service provider racked up debts that put "great pressure on its cash position, but the company relies more heavily than most on revenue from international broadband transport, the hardest hit sector," it says. The company has also had high management turnover, including four CEOs since 1998.

Those and other problems contribute to Gartner estimates that "Global Crossing will need funding beyond the $750 million to keep operating much beyond mid-2003," it says.

Gartner suggests Global Crossing try refocusing on service providers, target enterprises and retrench to one region.

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