GlobeTel, R.I.P.

David Sims : First Coffee
David Sims
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GlobeTel, R.I.P.

By David Sims

The news as of the first coffee this morning, and the music is the Screaming Blue Messiahs' "I Wanna Be A Flintstone." By the way, if anyone knows where I can get that CD again -- I have just the one song downloaded from Limewire -- please let me know:

Just to wrap off a topic First Coffee's covered regularly for months now, then we'll be done with these jokers, since it looks like these jokers will be toast toot sweet:

GlobeTel, which hit First Coffee's radar screen with an out of the blue, too good to be true $600 million Russian Wi-MAX deal last year, will have its shares delisted by the American Stock Exchange. Several news sources report that the AMEX has stopped trading of the stock.

This news came out last week while First Coffee was sampling the customer relationship management practiced by various Munich beer gardens and coffee shops -- we're pleased to report it's wonderful, although more research may be needed in the future. There'll be more coming out about this delisting, no doubt, but frankly First Coffee's tired of these clowns and isn't promising any more coverage after this column; I always kind of feel I need a shower after writing about GlobeTel.

The official version is that the Fort Lauderdale-based Delaware corporation, founded in 2002, has "issued a pattern of overly promotional press releases," according to BizJournals. Other reasons given were that GlobeTel has not issued the exchange information concerning the company, and that GlobeTel or its management "has engaged in operations, which, in the opinion of the exchange, are contrary to the public interest."

But basically, it boils down to the fact that, scientifically, legally and telecommunicationally, these guys are a bunch of weenies. The company lost $6.2 million in 2003, $13.2 million in 2004 and $32 million in 2005 while issuing a blizzard of the most blushingly upbeat press releases outside of Pyongyang around the Dear Leader's birthday.

Props for poking GlobeTel's blimp go in large part to Seth Jayson, Motley Fool writer who has earned the right to raise a glass or two of 101-proof I Told You So bourbon. He started reading the fine print in GlobeTel's sunnier than thou publications last year, and found that he didn't like what he saw very much. As he wrote last week, "penny stocks don't get very far without PR. And they can go incredibly far when PR manages to bamboozle members of the business press."

First Coffee picked up on GlobeTel back in January when he noticed a press release stating "in the strongest terms" that the statements and implications made by "Mr. Seth Jayson" in his Motley Fool article dated January 23rd, 2006, are "entirely without substance and are misleading."

First Coffee loves a catfight as much as the next reporter, and read Jayson's piece, learning that GlobeTel stock shot up 75 percent in a single day in late December after announcing a $600 million " Wi-MAX wireless network" deal for the "30 largest Russian cities," as Jayson said.

Then in a piece titled "More Hot Air From GlobeTel" on January 6 at Motley Fool Jayson said that GlobeTel had a history of hiring brass bands to trumpet the greatest project since free beer and ice cream, few of which ever actually materialized. There was the Internet blimps over Colombia idea, not that that wouldn't make a great title for a Radiohead album, the turnkey VoIP products, deals for wireless networks in China, Japan, and Germany, and "many other projects that so far seem to have produced nothing more than penny-stock froth."

Froth it did, no latté has ever had more. The deal in Russia to supply Wi-MAX to every Ivan and Olga was, according to GlobeTel, to be the greatest thing to hit Russia since the invention of vodka, stealing the market right out from under the nose of Nokia, Avaya, Verizon, Comcast and those other pikers. Warning, Will Robinson, warning. Credibility alert.

GlobeTel's brash CEO Tim Huff promised that $150 million of the funding would be in place by January 31. It wasn't, so as his share price tanked he wrote a press release saying well, y'know, it's a pretty complicated international deal, so the regulators and lawyers and all what have you are making sure everything's legit.

GlobeTel's Russian investors were some company called Internafta LLC, which had no track record in telecom and whose only publicly-identified partner, Maxim Chernizov, said he made his money in "rare earth metals." He swears he isn't Mafia.

Explaining how the completely unknown GlobeTel, with no track record of success, aced out the likes of Cisco and Qualcomm, and all the major multinational, European telecoms in landing the Wi-MAX deal, Chernizov claimed GlobeTel has "new technology to improve the depth and breadth of telephony and other wireless services." GlobeTel executives have never explained the nature of this "new technology."

First Coffee heard from a friend in Russian telecom, Nigel, about what all this looks like from the Russian perspective. "Funny," he wrote, and you could almost hear him sigh. "All the operators here in Russia are getting lots of calls on GlobeTel, and even the authorities are asking us about it."

The Russian market has lots of potential, but the penetration of broadband is not going to be that spectacular, Nigel thinks, "even amongst us that are enthusiastic over the market potential. We don't see more than 10 per 100 penetration for broadband subscribers (note subscribers and not users) over the next 6 years on a nationwide basis."

"I sure wish I had $600 million to spend in Russia, but even if I had a quarter of this amount, it would be a challenge to invest it wisely," Nigel observed. "This all takes a lot of time and experience, and most of the really interesting spectrum is not even available at this point. In any case, I would not want to be doing this for the first time in Russia." 

One GlobeTel shareholder wrote to First Coffee saying "I will disclose that my biggest pet peeve with the GlobeTel management right now is their lack of disclosure and secrets. The problem with GlobeTel is that it seems -- in pure Tom Clancy style -- the operations are 'black bag' secrets and shareholders are left in the dark.

"The SEC filings are very clear in the operations to date, but it has not been profitable so there is no credibility. As a shareholder, I would like more than LOI, but I am a patient person looking to score on the long side (and trade some in the short term…) So, we (collective shareholders) are left wondering and hoping that Huff is a man of his word."

Indeed. Of course the Russian deal collapsed, and along with it GlobeTel's stock price and credibility. Shareholders began launching lawsuits, and the mainstream press noticed that hey, something doesn't smell right with GlobeTel.

Then in late May New York Post financial writer Chris Byron blew GlobeTel right out of the water, calling on theAmerican Stock Exchange to "halt trading in the shares of GlobeTel Communications Corp."

Byron said GlobeTel officials have "pirouetted from one see-through ploy to the next to create the illusion of value in a worthless penny stock." He recounted in convincing fashion what he characterized as "two complete pump-and-dump cycles that have sent an astounding 1.1 billion shares of its stock churning through the market," resulting in "bogus $350 million market value for the company, two-thirds of which has now evaporated, with $74 million of it detouring into the outstretched hands of the company's insiders."

The two "ploys," of course, were the blimps-over-Colombia for cell phone transmission and the $600 million Wi-MAX in Russia schemes, neither of which resulted in anything but a lot of nice-sounding press releases and a slew of class action suits filed against the company on behalf of investors.

Law enforcement finally decided to start poking their noses around GlobeTel, hopefully with clothespins. Then came the announcement that AMEX would be doing the right thing and delisting GlobeTel shares. On Thursday the stock went from about a buck to just north of 50 cents.

Anyway, it looks like the end of the road for GlobeTel. It's certainly the end of First Coffee caring about it, so R.I.P., GlobeTel.

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1 Comment

Before investing in this pump and dump company please do your due diligence. Start by looking at the EX-COO’s personal web page - Where he posts all of Globetel’s GTEM dirty secrets. It’s amazing what happens behind closed doors.

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