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These two Swedish brothers who managed to sell $300 million worth of stocks in their Cayman Islands registred company and still having a 89% control of the company! The sales where between Januari and April 2000. It made them into a place in the upper quartet of the Fortune 500...
Unbeleivable what bubble that was! Poor stockholders. They now live in Greenwich, CT.
Unebeleivable how the Scandinavian Company changed name to Exodus communication and published 40 pressreleases in a couple of months. Also thanks to MSN Moneycentral editor who apparently owned stocks in the company:
Vik's vapor stock
> How press releases and dot.com name gassed up a 74,000 percent balloon
> By Christopher Byron
> MSNBC CONTRIBUTOR, April 25, 2000
> An extraordinary company has been getting the attention of investors
> lately. The company in question -- which bears the recently acquired
> cyberspace moniker of Xcelera.com -- turns out to be headquartered not in
> Silicon Valley, or indeed anywhere else within the lawful jurisdiction
> of the United States, but in a post office box in the breeze-caressed
> offshore tax haven of the Cayman Islands.
> THIS IN TURN means that Xcelera.com Inc., doesn't have to file
> quarterly financial statements with the Securities and Exchange
> Commission or anyone else. And since the company doesn't have to, it
> doesn't. Instead, the company reports only once a year on its business
> and financial affairs.
> And since the latest such report was filed last August and covers
> the fiscal year that ended in January 1999, there are no current
> financials to explain the fact that between then and, oh, about three
> weeks ago, Xcelera's stock price soared from 30 cents per share to $223
> per share -- which is to say, rose by more than 74,000 percent in value --
> which is, I would suspect, the greatest one-year rise of any
> exchange-listed stock in the history of Wall Street.
> ALEXANDER VIK's MANEUVERINGS
> Our story on these matters begins back in the late 1980s, when a
> Greenwich, Conn., investor named Alexander Vik led the takeover of an
> obscure American Stock Exchange-listed, closed-end investment trust
> bearing the name The Scandinavia Fund. Mr. Vik moved the business into a
> privately held investment firm he ran out of Monte Carlo (Vik Brothers
> International), and from there to the Cayman Islands, where, in 1993, it
> wound up in possession of a hotel in the Canary Islands.
> Until dot-com mania began sweeping Wall Street five years later,
> running that hotel was about all The Scandinavia Company really did. But
> then, in June 1997, a struggling Internet outfit named Mirror Image
> Internet AB began trading on the Stockholm Stock Exchange at roughly a
> dollar per share, and not long afterward it looks to have caught the eye
> of Mr. Vik, who began acquiring stock in the company.
> Yet Mirror Image was no General Motors. The company had no
> material revenues, no income, and no assets except for the money that
> The Scandinavia Company had begun pumping into it. By spring 1999,
> Mirror Image's disappointed investors had knocked the shares down to
> barely 4 cents each, giving the entire company a market value of not
> much more than $700,000. Yet by this time Vik and the boys were already
> in the hole to the tune of $5.9 million for more than half the company's
> LAVA FLOW OF PRESS RELEASES
> It was at that point that Mr. Vik and his company, apparently
> anxious to pump some life back into their collapsing investment,
> suddenly erupted in a lava flow of press releases about Mirror Image.
> Thus, on April 1, 1999, The Scandinavia Company issued the first of more
> than 50 press releases on Mirror Image -- this one declaring that the Vik
> group had acquired a majority interest in the company, which the release
> described as "a leading Internet caching company."
> In fact, in the quarter that had ended right before that press release
> was issued, Mirror Image had booked revenues of barely $240,000. The
> Scandinavia Company's own August 1999 filing with the Securities and
> Exchange Commission described Mirror Image as a "startupS lacking
> Rsignificant revenues or expenses,S and with no material assets other
> than the $5.9 million that the Vik crowd had pumped into it.
> On a recent appearance on CNBC's popular weekday-morning Squawk
> Box program, Mr. Vik was asked by the show's avuncular anchor, Mark
> Haines, whether he didn't think it odd that, if Mirror Image's
> technology was so valuable, the company would have been willing to sell
> half its equity to Mr. Vik's outfit for less than $6 million when "there
> are oceans of venture capital money looking for ideas to invest in."
> Mr. Vik answered: "The reason for that is that the company started in
> Sweden, and in Sweden, you know, a year or two ago, there weren't oceans
> of venture capital money looking for companies."
> In fact, though Mr. Vik maintained in an interview with me that
> he did not relocate Mirror Image from Sweden to the United States until
> 1999, Mirror Image itself had issued a press release a full year
> earlier, in April of 1998, describing itself as being "based" in Woburn,
> Mass., in the very heart of Massachusetts' high-technology corridor
> along "oute 128. It stretches credulity to believe that the venture
> capital community of Boston, which had already pumped huge amounts of
> money into such Internet caching-related startups as Sycamore Networks
> Inc. and Akamai Technologies Inc., was oblivious to the existence or
> potential of this firm -- especially when Mirror Image had been issuing
> its own press releases all along, claiming business ties with Cisco
> Systems Inc. and others.
> STOCK EXPLOSION
> Be that as it may, no sooner did The Scandinavia Company's press
> release get distributed on the World Wide Web on the morning of April 1,
> 1999, than The Scandinavia Company's stock exploded, tripling from 39
> cents per share to $1.18 on 60 times normal volume. In Stockholm, of
> course, investors knew better, and the fact that The Scandinavia Company
> had now announced its majority ownership of Mirror Image -- which
> everyone knew was coming all along -- was a complete non-event: Mirror
> Image's stock price, which by now had crashed to 4 cents per share,
> didn't budge a penny.
> Between April 1 and September 29 -- a period during which
> The Scandinavia Company issued 18 more press releases in addition to
> announcing that it was selling its hotel in the Canary Islands and
> changing its name to Xcelera.com -- the company's stock rose 375 percent
> more, to $5.61 per share.
> By that time, the press releases and rising stock price had
> caught the eye of someone with a real megaphone -- a financial writer at
> Microsoft Corp.'s MoneyCentral Web site -- who gathered what little
> information he could about the company, pronounced it "nothing if not an
> enigma," then summarized its business as helping Internet companies
> "conserve bandwidth and boost speed," and pronounced its recent stock
> performance "just a start if its smart Web infrastructure investments
> keep up."
> In the following two trading days, The Scandinavia Company's
> stock spurted another 50 percent, as momentum traders began chasing
> after the rising price of the shares now that the company's story had
> moved beyond mere press release distribution. Meanwhile, the press
> releases kept coming (nine more through the month of October) as the
> stock price nearly doubled again -- helped along toward month's end by an
> October 28 recommendation on Microsoft's MoneyCentral site that
> proclaimed the company a "phenomenon" and predicted yet more gains for
> its stock.
> Though the company issued seven more press releases during
> December, they were actually no longer necessary. The stock price of The
> Scandinavia Company (now known as Xcelera.com) had caught an unstoppable
> updraft and was soaring on its own. By the first week of January, when
> MoneyCentral published yet another ultra-upbeat story on the stock, it
> had tripled yet again and stood at $45 per share.
> A "CHANCE TO CHANGE THE WORLD"
> Between the publication of the MoneyCentral Web site story on
> Jan. 7 and the middle of February, Xcelera.com's stock price soared
> another 42 percent, to $64 per share -- at which point came the biggest
> and most dramatic surge of all. This occurred when George Gilder, the
> widely followed technology writer and commentator, endorsed the company
> in one of his newsletters, saying that its ownership of Mirror Image
> gave Xcelera.com a "chance to change the world." The very instant the
> story was published, on Feb. 17, Xcelera's stock rocketed skyward all
> over again, closing at $95 per share, for a 50 percent gain on the day,
> on 12 times normal volume. In the four weeks that followed, the shares
> performed yet another tripling feat, reaching $223 on March 23 when they
> topped out on an announcement that Exodus Communications, the Web
> hosting outfit, had made a 15 percent equity investment in Mirror Image
> and agreed to offer its service to Exodus customers.
> In short, from April 1, 1999, to March 23, 2000 -- a period just
> shy of one year -- this Cayman Islands-based company that almost no one
> had previously heard of, with audited financials a year-and-a-half out
> of date, had risen by 74,333 percent in value, to $223 per share,
> putting an $11.7 billion market valuation on the company on the basis of
> nothing but a deluge of self-serving press releases and the enthusiastic
> writings of two people on the Web.
> Now granted, it is entirely possible that Mirror Image really
> will "change the world" -- or at least the digital part of it, in Mr.
> Gilder's somewhat overwrought expression. It is also possible that, when
> the Hewlett-Packard Co. agreed back in December to invest $32 million in
> Xcelera (an amount that has now been increased to $52 million), the
> Hewlett-Packard people saw in the Mirror Image technology whatever it
> was that Mr. Gilder claims to have seen. Certainly investors who noticed
> the press release announcing the Hewlett-Packard deal took it as
> evidence of Hewlett-Packard's confidence in the company.
> On the other hand, it is also possible that all Hewlett-Packard
> really wanted to do was sell some equipment the easy way -- by lending
> the customer the money needed to buy it. In the deal, Xcelera is
> borrowing some $50 million from Hewlett-Packard, by way of a convertible
> debt offering, then handing some 80 percent of the proceeds right back
> to Hewlett-Packard in return for 32 servers and associated software and
> support. This means, in effect, that Hewlett-Packard is creating roughly
> $40 million of revenue for itself by simply lending Xcelera.com the
> money to buy its products -- betting in the process that Xcelera's rising
> stock price will more than offset the risk of lending to the company in
> the first place.
> XCELERA TAKES A HIT
> That bet may have looked smart when Xcelera's stock price was
> tripling every month, but it suddenly doesn't seem so clever. Since
> March 22, the collapse in Internet stocks has flattened not just Xcelera
> but the entire dot-com sector, with Xcelera having given back, in four
> weeks, roughly 66 percent of the gains it racked up throughout the whole
> of the previous year. Bad news for everyday shareholders in Xcelera?
> Obviously. And for Hewlett-Packard? Maybe.
> But want to guess who's not gotten hurt in the rout? Try Mr. Vik
> and his chums. SEC records show that since late February, the
> Vik-controlled V.B.I. operation has quietly filed to sell an incredible
> $326 million worth of Xcelera.com stock, which it held via an address in
> the Turks & Caicos Islands in the British West Indies. In so doing, it
> would appear, we may conclude, that Mr. Vik and his chums have answered
> once and for all -- if anyone needed to ask in the first place -- whether
> the folks behind this tax-haven operation really thought the shares they
> were holding were worth more than the money they could get by selling them before their own personal 74,000 percent bubble went pffft.
Results for Excelera for 2002, formerly the Scandinavian Trading Company owning hotels in Spain
Xcelera's net income for the year decreased to a $96.3 million loss, or $(0.87) per basic and diluted share, compared to a $124.3 million gain, or $1.12 per basic and $0.95 per diluted share for the previous year.
Xcelera also announced that it had converted $22.7 million of its $45.3 million outstanding convertible note from Hewlett-Packard Company by issuing 1.5 million shares of its common stock. Xcelera anticipates that by the end of its 2003 fiscal year it will have converted the remaining $22.7 million of its convertible note by issuing an additional 0.8 million shares of its common stock.
As of June 30, 2002, Xcelera maintained a strong financial position with approximately $164 million in cash and cash equivalents and no material debt.
He says he spends three to five months a year in the U.S., where he owns a Georgian-style house in Greenwich, Connecticut, which was built in 1930 by Godfrey Rockefeller, a great-nephew of John D. Rockefeller. The eight-bedroom mansion is valued at $10.2 million on Zillow.com, a real-estate records Web site that estimates property prices. Vik also has a two-bedroom apartment in the Time Warner Center on the southwest corner of New York's Central Park. He bought it for $4 million in 2004, according to city records. Vik earned a bachelor's degree in economics in 1978 from Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he was a two-time Ivy League golf champion.
After working at Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in New York, Vik pursued real-estate deals and started an insurance company. He also rode the Internet bubble when the value of one of his companies, now called Xcelera Inc., soared and then collapsed, sparking a class-action lawsuit that's still pending.
Vik and his brother Gustav built Xcelera on a Cayman Islands-based firm that operated a hotel in the Canary Islands. The company took control of Mirror Image Internet Inc., a U.S. software maker whose products speed access to online information, on April 1, 1999. Xcelera's market value rose to $11.7 billion in March 2000, from $616,000 a year earlier. It is now valued at $35.3 million in over-the-counter trading in New York.
The Vik brothers reaped ``proceeds of over $250 million'' by selling shares of Xcelera, according to the class-action suit filed in 2001 in federal court in Boston. The lawsuit alleges they sold stock at ``artificially'' inflated prices and failed to tell investors that there was a risk their holdings could be diluted. The case is at the pre- trial stage.
``I just feel cheated,'' says Beverly Tamashiro, 52, a plaintiff in the case who works as an administrative clerk at the University of Hawaii law school in Honolulu. She read about Xcelera on the Internet, and lost about $1,800 after buying shares through an online brokerage. ``All of a sudden it started going backwards.''"