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“Corporate Catastrophe”

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AOL Time Warner yesterday reported the biggest annual loss in American corporate history, $98 billion. Ted Turner is quitting, following Steve Case out of the executive suite. The Washington Post does not shy away from extreme terms:

    The enormous financial loss comes just two years after the widely heralded $112 billion merger of Dulles-based America Online and Time Warner, a melding of new and established media that Case, Turner and others predicted would lead to a global colossus in the digital age. Instead, the deal has devolved into a corporate catastrophe, with stockholders of both companies losing tens of billions of dollars, and thousands of executives and rank-and-file employees forfeiting once-promising jobs, careers and fortunes.

But the announcement may be the final remnant of the dotcom bust, and the new valuation of AOL may finally be really real.

    The nearly $100 billion annual loss for 2002 stems not from operations, but mostly from charges of more than $80 billion, reflecting changes in accounting rules and a decline in the value of America Online, an Internet service provider, and other holdings. The corporation took a charge of $33.5 billion in the fourth quarter alone because of the decline in the value of America Online. The steep drop in “goodwill” reflects a measure of the difference between the current value of the AOL unit and its higher valuation at the time of the merger with Time Warner in January 2001.

Time Warner and its stockholders got totally ripped, there is no doubt, but perhaps the price for their “exuberance” has now been paid.

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About Eric Olsen

  • http://www.resonation.ca Jim Carruthers

    Where did the money go? You have the imperium talking about a billion here, a billion there, and it could add up to real money.

    From @man:
    Weapons of What?

    A big concern these days is Weapons of Mass Destruction. Nuclear
    weapons (pronounced “Nookyalur” if you are President) are a prime
    example, which work by converting mass to energy, a process described by
    the famous equation E=mc^2.

    If we apply Einstein’s equation equating mass and energy to the phrase
    “Weapons of Mass Destruction” we get “Weapons of Energy Destruction”. A
    prime example of a WED is the Enron corporation, which when set off
    deprived California and other western states of massive amounts of
    electricity while converting its value expressed as billions of dollars
    stored in electronic brokerage accounts to the value of the paper the
    shares of stock were printed on. Enron, in other words is a WED that
    converted gigawatt-hours of electricity into a small amount of nearly
    worthless paper. When you look at the amounts of energy and paper
    involved, you find that the conversion of one to the other is described
    once again by Einstein’s famous equation E=mc^2.

    BAN WEAPONS OF ENERGY DESTRUCTION.

    And while we’re at it, let’s apply some of that energy to Kenneth Lay,
    former CEO of Enron, directly, in the form of a hair-raising ride in the
    old electric chair.

    And Bernard Ebbers, former CEO of Worldcom, is welcome to sit on his lap
    for the ride.

    And might I add the onslaught on unilateral free trade, ie, lumber and manufacturing is only allowed to flow from the States.