Short Takes on High Yields


Metromedia International Group and PLD Telekom, which Metromedia recently acquired, closed offices in Connecticut, London and Moscow in a campaign to cut overhead expenses by 50% this year. The company's operating headquarters will move from Connecticut to Vienna and its executive headquarters will move to New York. Metromedia will reduce its employee count from 160 to 40...

Banc of America Securities announced last week the launch of its new High Yield Large Cap Index as a benchmark to track the performance of large, liquid issues. The index will include more than 300 issues each worth $300 million or more and with an aggregate market value of about $140 billion. The company said that by focusing on the more liquid issues, at a time when liquidity has "never been more important," the index accurately will capture what is happening in the market...

Long distance and cable behemoth AT&T Corp. asked federal regulators for an 18-month extension to comply with cable ownership rules after its acquisition of MediaOne Group last year. That acquisition brought into question whether AT&T would have a bigger share of the cable market than is allowed by law. The current legal cap is 30% of the national market. AT&T has argued that the current cable subscribers to Time Warner Entertainment, which is partially owned by MediaOne, should not count as AT&T cable customers. If they are indeed excluded, then AT&T would have just 27% of the market...

Meanwhile, AT&T Corp. will hold a special shareholder meeting March 14 to decide whether it will issue a special tracking stock for its wireless business. The company has about 12 million wireless customers and said previously that it may sell 19% of that business in an initial public offering. Such tracking stocks have become popular as a means by which companies can unlock the market value of wireless units. Shareholders of record Jan. 26 will be allowed to attend the meeting...

Comcast Corp. completed the acquisition of Lenfest Communications last week, solidifying its position as the third-largest player in the cable market. The move adds 1.25 million subscribers to Comcast's network, bringing its total up to 8.2 million. Lenfest's shareholders will receive 116 million shares of Comcast's Class A common stock and Comcast will assume Lenfest's outstanding debt of $1.5 billion...

Despite government controls that limit access to foreign sites, slow connection speeds and high charges, the number of Internet users in China nearly doubled in the last six months. According to China Daily, an official newspaper, the number of users grew from four million to eight million during the last half of 1999. The average Chinese user spends 17 hours per week browsing the Internet, while the number of Chinese sites jumped to 15,153 at year-end from 9,906 at the end of June...

Citing a weak debt-to-EBITDA ratio, Duff & Phelps Credit Rating Agency downgraded Global Crossing Holdings' senior secured debt rating to triple-B-minus from triple-B, and its senior unsecured debt rating to double-B-plus from triple-B-minus. In order to meet demand growth, Duff and Phelps said that Global Crossing is under great pressure to expand its transport capabilities, resulting in heavy capital expenditure. In 1999, the issuer's debt-to-EBITDA ratio was approximately 4.3...

Credit Suisse First Boston started selling debt, including high yield debt, electronically in a service called PrimeDebt. It is accessible via CSFB's Website to about 10,000 institutional investors. In larger moves that helped put such services on firm footing in the market, Ford Motor Credit Co. sold about $1.2 billion two weeks ago electronically, and Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac made similar moves recently.