For Sale: One Internet, Slightly Used


Damn. Hesitate, and you are lost.
Driving home from work last night, listening to Marketplace, it occured to me to wonder why, given that Worldcom’s stock was at $0.10 , nobody was attempting a takeover of the company.
After all, Worldcom basically owns 50 % of the Internet. Surely that’s worth something.
So, snug in my cleverness, I figured I had an easy win: pop open News.com, find the # of shares outstanding, multiply by the share price, and wallah! Clever post describing exactly how much it would cost to buy half the Internet. (There’s the little matter of their $30 billion in outstanding debt, but that’s why I’m a blogger and not a financial analyst). I could’ve even thrown in a clever line about putting it up on eBay.
Well, reality seems to have beaten me to the punch.. IDT, a small telcom company, has offered to buy certain Worldcom units for five billion dollars.
Examining the deal closely, though, it seems they are only interested in some of the voice communications assets — News.com describes the purchase as being for units which provide “local phone services to businesses, and the MCI consumer and small-business long-distance operations.”
So what about the Internet? Doesn’t anybody want to buy that? As of this morning, Worldcom’s market capitalization is a measly $740 million. Given the huge level of their debt ($30B, in case you forgot), the actual price of their shares has essentially become a rounding error for anybody thinking of purchasing the company outright.
Anybody care to set up the eBay auction?