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05.24.09

Microsoft Sued Over Its Corruption in Switzerland, Microsoft Debt Revisited

Posted in Europe, Finance, Fraud, Law, Microsoft, Red Hat at 2:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Switzerland money

Summary: Microsoft is sued by Red Hat for secret deals while the red ink seems to be quietly dripping

MICROSOFT’S illegal dealings in Switzerland are a subject that we wrote about earlier this month in:

Switzerland, being a nation of banking for the most part at least in people’s minds, thrives in trust and responsibility. Swiss citizens knew what Microsoft was up to and they responded:

Asking Switzerland for more neutrality …

[...]

Well – a lot of people in Switzerland and almost 20 companies are not really happy. Among these companies is Red Hat. So Red Hat is joining the official appeal that asks the court to stop this contract, force BBL to evaluate the alternatives that exist and are in active use, even in Switzerland in the offical way of public tendering.

Effectively the appeal asks the BBL to defend competition. In a vendor neutral way. Based on technical merits. I think it is fair to ask. Let the court decide.

And ofcourse the irony of asking Switzerland of all countries to act in a (vendor-) neutral way is quite funny.

As the above already suggests, Red Hat’s legal team is stepping in.

Red Hat is a leader of an appeal by 18 technology companies of a Swiss government agency’s award of a no-bid contract to Microsoft. The challenge raises important issues of openness in government and of a level playing field for open source and other competitors of Microsoft. Red Hat is seeking a public bidding process that allows for consideration of the technical and commercial advantages of open source software products.

There is some press coverage only from Peter Judge, but hopefully the word will spread and inspire other countries to do the same thing. It is certainly a broader issue.

£8 million a year to Microsoft, with no public bidding. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg, say open source activists

Linux vendor Red Hat, and 17 other vendors, have protested a Swiss government contract given to Microsoft without any public bidding. The move exposes a wider Microsoft monopoly that European governments accept, despite their lip service for open source, according to commentators.

The Red Hat group has asked a Swiss federal court to overturn a three-year contract issued to Microsoft by the Swiss Federal Bureau for Building and Logistics, to provide Windows desktops and applications, with support and maintenance, for 14 million Swiss Franc (£8 million) each year. The contract, for “standardised workstations”, was issued with no public bidding process, Red Hat’s legal team reports in a blog – because the Swiss agency asserted there was no sufficient alternative to Microsoft products.

For Microsoft to stoop down to these tactics of secret deals is not particularly surprising. See the following writings about Microsoft’s financial situation, which suffers from endless dumping of software and hefty fines:

As that last link shows, Microsoft is already taking debt. In fact, Microsoft’s debt is now receiving the blessing of a criminal company, which gives Microsoft (MSFT) debt a high rating.

DaemonFC says that “Microsoft is trying to sell debt bonds” and Twitter explains that “the $30 billion of cash had conflicts with other reports of $20 and it’s more likely they have none.”

“Microsoft is actually done with buybacks.”Further he explains: “at the end of 2008 they said they would go $20 billion in debt to buy $40 billion of their shares. Over the last couple of weeks there were a number of articles that acted like this is what they were doing. I thought they had already done their buy backs.”

Microsoft is actually done with buybacks. They announced it one month ago and it is odd because the company has purchased its stock heavily for many years. At that stage, namely the point where undisclosed buybacks are complete (their scale is disclosed, not the purchasing pace), according to their plans they would be about $5 billion in debt. Unless they cut these buybacks short, it would only make sense for Microsoft to be in debt right now. But as Twitter says, “If Microsoft is done with buybacks, why are there so many BS articles about it? [...] and this earlier article acts as if no one was sure.” To quote: “We know not why a company the size and shape of Microsoft needs to raise money through debt issuance–it already has over $30 billion in cash at hand on its books–but if this is a cost-of-capital initiative that leads to the company buying back some of its own float, shareholders may be in for a treat.

What exactly is going on here? Someone is not telling the whole truth as there are contradictions that we are able to identify.

“There is such an overvaluation of technology stocks that it is absurd. I would include our stock in that category. It is bad for the long-term worth of the economy.”

Steve Ballmer

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A Single Comment

  1. amd-linux said,

    May 24, 2009 at 4:34 am

    Gravatar

    Roy,

    while not being an expert in US GAP, it could be possible that

    - cash as accounted in the MS balance sheet care mostly short and medium term bonds, not real cash or account deposits at a bank
    - the actual losses in valuation of these bonds are not being reflected fully in their balance sheet because as the are accounted as “HTM”, hold to maturity, instead of mark to market, in the hope that the issuer of these bonds can repay them, but there is currently no market with fair prices or huge spreads.

    So, in essence, their balance sheets show us huge “cash” reserves but that might give a wrong picture about their liquidity. And liquidity is want you need – cause with liquidity you pay the bills. If you assets are not liquid, you might die as a rich man, so to say :-)

    Banks did not collapse because they ran out of assets but in the cases I am familiar with, they financed long term credits they issued with short term credits they borrowed – but when the market dried out, boom…… although they had this huuuuge assets in their portfolio.

    So maybe MS manouvred itself in a similar situation, which looked very attractive until 9 months ago, as you could realize huge interest rate profits by refinancing long term, high interest rate credit facilities with short term low rate loans.

    This is my personal speculation, I have not the slightest clue if this is true – but as a model, it IMHO can explain why MS needs to borrow money.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_to_market
    http://www.americanbanker.com/glossary.html?alpha=H

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