We all know that Rupert’s $12 billion effort in 2001-02 is an Australian record, but how does it compare internationally. We’ve gathered up a couple of recent biggies and encourage you to send in a few more so we can makes this more comprehensive.

AOL Time Warner: the mega-merger of the dotcom boom resulted in a world record $104 billion loss in just three months as the AOL internet assets were finally given a realistic value.

JDS Uniphase: wrote off $101 billion after admitting it paid way too much for a series of acquisitions.

Vodafone: after admitting it paid way too much for German company Mannesmann, Vodafone reported a loss of $50 billion last year, a record in the UK.

Deutsche Telekom: the former state-owned telecommunications monopoly posted a European record loss of $44 billion in 2002, due to some disastrous acquisitions made by the previous management.

Vivendi Universal: Jean-Marie Messier managed to turn an unglamorous water utility, the Compagnie Generale des Eaux, into Vivendi Universal — the world’s second largest media company — but has again posted a massive loss of $41.5 billion for 2002, regaining the dubious honor of France’s biggest ever corporate loss.

France Telecom: one of the world’s most heavily-indebted companies announced a full-year loss of $37 billion for 2002, briefly taking the record for the biggest corporate loss by a French company from Vivendi.

Nortel: the Canadian company reported a $27 billion loss in 2001 and has had its credit rating reduced to junk status. The company has $4.8 billion in debt and analysts believe that it will need to raise at least $1.6 billion from a share offering to remain properly funded through 2003.

Vivendi Universal:reported a French record $23 billion loss for 2001 after massively overpaying for assets at the height of the dotcom boom.

Verisign: the disastrous Network Solutions acquisition sent this US tech stock to a record $19 billion loss last year despite a four-fold increase in net income.

Marconi: the once great electronics company is near death and reported the second biggest loss in British history recently with a $14 billion loss.

News Corp: write downs in Gemstar, European pay-TV and US sporting rights dragged News Corp to an Australian record $12 billion bottom line loss for 2001-02.

Cable & Wireless: thank god they got out of Australia. Cable and Wireless just dropped $11.5 billion after massively overpaying for a series of takeovers.

Iridium: the satelllite phone company backed by Motorola went bust in 2000 with a spectacular $10 billion in losses.

Adelphia: the sixth biggest US cable company filed for bankruptcy protection in June after months of turmoil in which the company ousted the Rigas family from its board and senior management positions. The accounting scandal, in which Adelphia revealed that founder John Rigas engaged in off-the-books borrowing to use company cash or assets to invest in a golf course and expand the Rigas family’s personal cable assets, has caused losses to investors of more than $60 billion. Adelphia’s stock closed at 15 cents a share Wednesday, down from a peak of $66 in May 1999.

Win a free Crikey subscription

Anyone who can up two more companies that have announced losses of more than $10 billion in one financial year will receive a free Crikey subscriptions so jump into google and start researching folks.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW