WorldCom Faces Delisting, Reviews 1999-01 Records
Embattled telecommunications company WorldCom Inc. (WCOM) on Monday said it was declared in default on more than $4 billion in credit facilities and that it could be delisted from the Nasdaq market.
The No. 2 U.S. long-distance telephone carrier, which was sued for fraud last week by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, also said that its audit committee is reviewing financial records for 1999 through 2001.
WorldCom stock, trading for the first time since it was halted last week after accounting revelations stunned Wall Street, plunged more than 90 percent to 6 cents a share from 83 cents at the close of Tuesday's regular session. The delisting from Nasdaq will be stayed if WorldCom requests a hearing.
The company further said it had been warned by lenders that they could demand immediate repayment of money owed under the credit facilities.
The SEC has accused WorldCom of covering up $1.22 billion in losses by improperly booking about $3.9 billion in expenses for five quarters starting in 2001.
WorldCom's accounting scandal was followed on Friday by one at copier maker Xerox Corp. (XRX), which restated five years of results to reclassify more than $6 billion in revenues. It also comes after the scandal-ridden of energy trader Enron Corp.
Two congressional committees have subpoenaed testimony and documents from WorldCom executives, while President Bush, angered at relentless scandals in U.S. boardrooms and the economic fallout, has said the Justice Department will hold accountable those responsible for any corporate wrongdoing.
QUESTIONS ABOUT 1999 AND 2000 RESULTS
Clinton, Mississippi-based WorldCom said Monday in a sworn statement to the SEC that questions have now been raised about "material reversals of reserve accounts during 2000 and 1999."
"No conclusion has been reached regarding these entries," WorldCom General Counsel Michael Salsbury said in the sworn statement demanded and released by the securities regulator.
KPMG LLP, which replaced Andersen in May to audit the company's books, has been asked to assist in the review of the financial statements, WorldCom said.
Also on Monday, WorldCom's lenders for senior unsecured credit facilities of $2.65 billion and $1.6 billion told the company that it had defaulted, WorldCom said, adding such a move was expected.
Lenders that hold 51 percent of the loans for the $2.65 billion facility could require immediate repayment, WorldCom said.
The company also said it has received a termination notice for a $1.5 billion program that secures accounts receivables and that it will use collections on the accounts to pay $1.2 billion outstanding.
WorldCom Chief Executive John Sidgmore said the company is in talks with lenders regarding replacement facilities.
Nonetheless, the company said it will pay its MCI Group dividend for the second quarter on July 15, as scheduled.
In its report to the SEC, WorldCom outlined how a review that began in May by WorldCom's vice president for internal audits led to the conclusion that the company would have to restate financial records for all of 2001 and the first quarter of 2002.
The company last week fired Chief Financial Officer Scott Sullivan, who continued to say the transfers of expenses to capital accounts were appropriate.
The transfers involved part of the costs for network services and facilities provided by third parties, WorldCom told the SEC.
Reuters contributed to this report.