Comverse up for sale
Telecommunications software developer Comverse Technology is officially up for sale, TheMarker has learned.
Telecommunications software developer Comverse Technology is officially up for sale, TheMarker has learned. The company is considered an attractive commodity, after having lost 30 percent of its value following publication of an options backdating scandal in 2005 and 2006 that led to the arrest of former CEO Jacob Alexander.
Before the scandal was exposed, Comverse's share was traded at $29, reflecting an estimated $6 billion value. Presently, after the company's management was replaced, its shares are trading for $20 with an estimated value of $4.15 billion.
The drop in Comverse's value is expected to attract more potential buyers now that the board of directors has instructed management to liquidate the company and its subsidiaries - Verint, Ulticom and Starhome. The company, which was founded in 1981 as a service provider for third-party telecom firms, has experienced serious difficulties during the 18 months that have passed since the scandal was first revealed.
It appears that Comverse's impending liquidation is connected to heavy losses that the company has registered since the scandal was exposed. This has already led to layoff of 300 of its 7,000 workers including several dozen in Israel.
Partial financial reports from this year's first quarter suggest the company suffered a colossal operational loss of $60 million. By comparison, the company boasted a $8.6 million profit in the corresponding quarter of 2006.
One of the repercussions of Comverse's option backdating, was that the company was unable to file timely financial reports with the US Securities and Exchange Commission. As a result, its stock was delisted from the Nasdaq Stock Market on February 1, 2007, and removed from the S&P 500 and Nasdaq-100 at the same time. The stock now trades on the Pink Sheets.
Alexander is suspected of pocketing $6.5 million in illicit profits from options that were backdated to lower their strike price. After escaping to Namibia, the United States requested his extradition. He was arrested there last September, and is currently fighting extradition to the U.S. in court.
Reuters yesterday reported that a magistrates court in Windhoek, Namibia's capital, postponed Alexander's extradition hearing for the third time since his arrest after proceedings stalled over which judge should hear the case.
The decision to delay the hearing to August 13 came hours after defense lawyers argued that Petrus Unengu, who was appointed by Namibia's justice minister to hear the extradition, be removed from the case, since his appointment threatened judicial independence and Alexander's right to a fair trial.