The other day, something remarkable happened: Abovenet filed an annual report (10-K) with the SEC. I know, who cares, right? But this day marks the end of an era, the final curtain has come down on the telecom nuclear winter that began in 2001 in which hundreds of telecom companies went under – from Worldcom on down. All those assets filtered through bankruptcy court into new ownership, occasionally more than once, but one case always stood out. You see, Abovenet used to be known as Metromedia Fiber Networks, or MFN, and the depth of their collapse is legendary, involving a 5 year SEC investigation.
While Abovenet emerged from bankruptcy in 2003, they have struggled for 5 years now to find out where the money went back in 2000-2002. They have not succeeded and have admitted they likely never will, nor have they managed to produce a 10-Q or a 10-K since then, despite being a public company. In fact, Abovenet didn’t have any quarterly or annual reports on file this century which they hadn’t disavowed. All the other rubble from the crash (MCI, GX, WilTel, Genuity, etc) has long been cleaned away or refurbished, but Abovenet was still lying in a coma.
Until today. Ok, they filed their annual report for 2006 – it’s one year and two months late – and their 2007 report is already 2 months late, but it is a major step nonetheless. Abovenet has always had great assets, deep fiber rings in major cities connecting 1400 buildings plus ILEC central offices etc, and even while their finances remained in shambles they have reshaped their business – selling off their datacenters and hosting business to focus on connectivity.
So maybe they’re back, but one can’t shake the feeling that they will be absorbed by a larger entity before long, i.e. by a Level 3, or a TW Telecom, or even Reliance/Flag/Yipes.
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