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Suzy In The City: PARTON MAY HAND MARCONI TO BANKS.

Byline: Suzy Jagger

MIKE Parton, boss of Marconi, delivered a fat kick in the teeth to his already out-of-pocket shareholders yesterday by hinting that he might hand the control of the company to the banks.

The shares, which fetched pounds 12.50 less than two years ago, fell by another 18 per cent yesterday, to 7.5p.

Marconi, which is still one of the world leaders in making telecom equipment, owes pounds 4billion to banks and bondholders.

Yesterday, the group, whose biggest customer is BT, said it was considering offering its bondholders new shares to get them off its back.

That would mean existing shareholders would see their piece of the pie severely reduced.

Parton piled on the gloom, unveiling a stonking pounds 5.7billion loss for the year alongside a fat fall in sales.

The loss is the biggest in City history.

Marconi's troubles began when former boss Lord Simpson squandered the group's cash reserves buying technology companies at the top of the market.

It was then hit by a massive fall in demand for new telecoms equipment after the dot com bubble burst in March 2000.

But it wasn't all gloom for Simpson: he left the group rather better off than the 10,000 workers who lost their jobs.

His pay-off was pounds 300,000 in cash plus extra money for his pension, totting up to a package worth pounds 1.5million.

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NO LOLLY: Parton
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:The Mirror (London, England)
Date:May 17, 2002
Words:239
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