What next for Williams Communication stockholders?

Friday, April 26th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

The News on Six has gotten a lot of phone calls and e-mails from upset stockholders of Williams Communications.

In a likelihood, the company will soon make their stock worthless. And they want to know what they can do about it. News on Six business reporter Steve Berg explains what stockholders can do, if anything.

Theoretically, there's not a lot the stockholders can do. But in reality, that's something else. They can take away their stock. But they can't take away their anger. "We've been completely ignored, but I don't think they're going to ignore us much longer." Like all stockholders, Dan Carone knew the risks. But he has one particular gripe against Williams Communications. "I mean the company told us that there was going to be no substantial dilution to the shareholders and a lot of people went out and bought stock based on what they said."

"There's the general idea in a lot of people's minds that if something bad happens, there has to be a remedy, there has to be someone to sue and sometimes it just ain't so." Bankruptcy attorney Leonard Pataki says Williams Communications can't be sued while they're in bankruptcy.

In fact even when they emerge for bankruptcy, they can't be sued for anything that happened before. So the stockholders are out of luck. Or maybe not. "For instance what we're seeing with the Enron situation, other parties who are not themselves debtors are being sued." Other parties like Williams Communications executives.

The banks that Carone argues forced Williams Communications into bankruptcy. Or even Williams Companies. You name it. "Anyone with a filing fee and an imagination can sue anyone else." Carone says the stockholders committee has already hired an attorney.

And already has his prediction for who gets the bullseye. "It's affecting Williams Companies, they're down to 19 bucks today, people in the end know they're the ones with the deep pockets and that's who everyone's going to go after."