WorldCom fraud shock sends stock markets tumbling

Cookie finally crumbles...

Cookie finally crumbles...

Stock markets across Europe plummeted today as investors reacted to WorldCom's announcement that it has fired its CFO and is investigating a $3.8bn accounting fraud. The company also announced 17,000 redundancies. The London FTSE 100 dropped by 188 points this morning, or 4.1 per cent, dragging it below the 4,500 level. Arnab Roychowdhury, equity analyst at Barclays Stockbrokers, said: "Last night WorldCom admitted what appears to be dodgy accountancy, on top of the big cloud it already sits under. This is another blow to market sentiment. It has bought most company stocks down for no reason other than sentiment. The idea is that if WorldCom stocks have been manipulated, there is less trust in other stocks. It's all about credibility." He added: "WorldCom's stocks are trading substantially below face value which is a good indicator that the markets believe the company is unable to survive." WorldCom admitted that its accountant, Andersen, had put £2.5bn down as capital expenditure over the last year and the first quarter of this year, enabling it to fraudulently boost profits on paper. Roychowdhury added: "WorldCom could do a debt for equity swap, but who the hell would want equity in that company? It is possible that it could go under. KPNQwest went bankrupt quickly. It is possible that WorldCom could go under in three months or less."