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WorldCom Mulls Further $16Bn Write-Off

Jan 31, 2003 | FT.COM WorldCom, the bankrupt US long-distance provider, disclosed on Thursday it was considering a write-off that could exceed $66bn as part of a restructuring of its balance sheet.

The company has already indicated it would be taking a goodwill write-off of $50bn, and said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission that it was also investigating a write-off of "a material portion" of its property and equipment assets. A person who is close to the group said about half of those assets which are valued at $32bn could eventually be written off.

WorldCom said it was too early to determine exactly how much it would ultimately write-off because the company was still reviewing previous audits of its asset values. The company on Thursday refused to comment on when those reviews would be complete or whether the writeoffs would take place at the same time.

WorldCom became the largest bankruptcy in US corporate history in June after a massive hole was discovered in its accounts. The group has, so far, acknowledged it inflated earnings by $9bn, though that number is likely to grow as the company's review of past accounts continues.

The company made the disclosure about the possible writeoff as it released operating results for November. The company has been forced to issue monthly results as part of its bankruptcy proceedings.

Excluding Embratel, the company's Brazilian holdings, WorldCom said it generated $2.2bn in sales in November, from $2.3bn in October. It narrowed a net loss from continuing operations to $194m, from $205m in the previous month. Capital expenditure for November was $48m, compared to $53m in October. WorldCom ended November with $2.3bn in cash, an increase of $200m from the previous month.

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