Williams Communication stockholders form special committee

Thursday, April 11th 2002, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

We've all seen the problems with Williams Communications and its stock value. But imagine that you have 750,000 shares of common stock in the company.

That's the story for one Tulsa man and as News on Six reporter Steve Berg explains, he's joining thousands of other Williams stockholders on the Internet to try to salvage their troubled investments.

Even though he has nearly a million shares of Williams Communications stock, Dan Carone doesn't know what's happening between the company and its banks and bondholders, because stockholders weren't invited. "Would you like to be excluded, I mean we're the ones with a billion-and-a-half dollars in there."

So the stockholders have formed a committee via the Internet. With 2,500 members and counting, they could be a force to be reckoned with. Cardone says they're not looking for a fight, but, "But the bondholders are going to try to grab everything they can, and the shareholders want a little piece of it so, undoubtedly we're at odds with each other." As most investors know, stockholders don't have nearly as much say as bondholders when a company gets into trouble.

But the stockholders committee says it has power in numbers. "And if you've got 10,000 shareholders and we all kick in a thousand bucks, then you've got a $10-million legal fund, you can fight a long time!" But Cardone says he hopes it doesn't come to that. "Williams Company, look what they've done for the community, I mean they give 6, 10 million bucks a year to charity, so these are really good guys. They're smart people, they're doing their best."

Cardone says they just want a seat at the table. "The time to get involved is now, before anything gets settled, before it goes into bankruptcy." Cardone thinks Williams Communications is still as strong as it ever was. He believes banks have lost faith because of all the other failed companies like Enron and Global Crossing.

The committee has created a web site at www.wcgiso.com to distribute information and assist with stockholder registration.