Citigroup (NYSE: C) cannot syndicate its EMI loan, AMD (NYSE: AMD) has lost its CTO, Fedex’s (NYSE: FDX) CEO sees a slowdown in the economy, and Nokia (NYSE: NOK) can’t sell phones with TVs.
Citigroup cannot seem to keep from getting hit with bad news almost every day. Its loan to music company EMI was supposed to be part of a package of debt sold to several private equity firms including Apollo and TPG. As it turns out, EMI is doing so poorly that Citi can’t put this paper in the package that it is dumping. The total value of the EMI debt is $4.9 billion. The news may be an example of the fact that March was a much worse month in the credit market than Wall St. imagined. The news certainly hit GE (NYSE: GE) hard. Now, Citi may be faced with more write-offs and that may mean raising more capital.
AMD lost its CTO. He was the architect of many of the company’s plans to make a come-back against rival Intel (NASDAQ: INTC). Hard to see why he would leave if things were turning around. AMD recently said it would get rid of another 10% of its staff and miss its Q1 numbers. The company has $5 billion in debt, most if its from buying mediocre graphics chip company ATI. AMD is now facing a year of negative cash flow and potential failure to meet debt service. Mark this one down for the Chapter 11 list.
Nokia says it is having trouble selling phones that are used as mini-TVs.The world’s largest handset maker said to Reuters "its push to promote mobile television broadcasting has not succeeded as the world’s top cellphone maker had hoped." Nokia should have know the project was a bad idea all along. People do not want to watch "House" on a one inch by one inch screen. The idea that consumers like tiny TV was always a myth.
Fedex (FDX) founder Fred Smith says the economy in the US is getting rough. He may have been sitting in a closet for the last quarter. Since his company does business in every corner of the earth, he should know better. But, his comments are reflective of the usual CEO tendency to hide from bad news, at least until it bites hard like it did at GE (NYSE: GE) this last week.
Douglas A. McIntyre