Stockholder pushes for MCI boycott

Stockholder pushes for MCI boycott

An angry WorldCom stockholder proposing a boycott of the telecommunications company has received more than 17,000 emails, including 7000 in the past week, from supporters.

Neal Nelson wants the company, now doing business as MCI, to rewrite its bankruptcy plan in favor of stockholders.

He has issued a series of press releases to publicise his boycott proposal.

Nelson, a Chicago, Illinois, Unix and Linux programmer, has been receiving about 1000 emails a day this week from people saying they will boycott MCI because of a reorganisation plan announced in April that Nelson describes as "unnecessarily harsh" to stockholders. Because of bankruptcy rules, banks and bondholders in the company will get most of the money in the reorganization, with stockholders getting nothing, Nelson complained in an interview.

"It's a really sweet deal for the new management at MCI," Nelson said of the reorganisation plan. "It's very cosy arrangement for bondholders right now."

Nelson, who has also tried sending out spam to convert people to his cause, explains his objections at the MCI WorldCom Stockholders Group's Web site, Nelson put up the Web site about a year ago to track MCI bankruptcy news and has been threatening the boycott since the beginning of May.

Instead of the company erasing about $US36 billion in debt in the bankruptcy proceeding, the company should eliminate $US20 billion, about half its debt, and leave some money for stockholders, Nelson said.

Because of the lower debt, MCI would have an advantage over competitors such as AT&T and Sprint , which were carrying larger debt loads, he said.

An MCI spokesperson wouldn't comment specifically on the bondholders versus stockholders issue in the reorganisation.

"Our restructuring plan has the support of 90 percent of the company's creditors," spokesperson, Julie Moore, said.

After the old WorldCom hadgone through a fraud investigation and accounting irregularities in the past year, a boycott madeno sense, Moore said.

"MCI is a company of 55,000 hard-working, dedicated employees who have already suffered a great deal at the hands of the few who were involved in wrongdoing," she said. "We don't see what a boycott would accomplish here, other than to hurt the people who have suffered enough."

But Nelson, a one-man thorn in MCI's side, said stockholders deserved to get something out of MCI's bankruptcy, in addition to other creditors.

"Thousands of people apparently feel that the current bankruptcy reorganisation plan is unfair," he said. "The US Trustee and the bankruptcy judge may accept this plan but the average citizens may reject it by cancelling their MCI WorldCom service."

On his Web site, he urges people who plan to cancel two MCI services, such as long-distance and Internet service, to send him two emails.

"If you expect to persuade your friends or family members to cancel, send an email for each expected cancellation. Please don't type messages in these emails. I am not going to read the emails. I am just going to count them," the Web site says.

Other than a series of press releases carried on a public relations Web site, Nelson has gotten little media attention for his effort. He's even tried sending out spam about the boycott effort, with about 300,000 unsolicited commercial emails going out earlier this month. But most responses, he said, had come from people reading the press releases.

He may try spam again, he said, after he figured out why the first batch received such a small response.

"Spam has the opportunity to be the small person's chance to make a speech to the world," Nelson said.

But spamming does have its downside.

"My friends who I talk to about it won't walk down the street with me, because they don't want to be associated with a spammer," he said.

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