Report: Majority interest in KLLM to be sold

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Majority interest in Richland, Miss.-based KLLM Transport Services, one of the largest temperature-controlled trucking companies in the United States, is up for grabs, the Clarion-Ledger of Jackson, Miss., recently reported.

That majority interest is among former WorldCom Chief Executive Officer Bernie Ebbers’ remaining assets that he turned over to settle a securities class action lawsuit stemming from the defunct telecommunications company’s $11 billion accounting fraud, a representative for the company handling Ebbers’ settlement fund told the newspaper.

“We’re in active negotiations with several buyers,” said Bill Brandt, president and CEO of Chicago-based Development Specialists Inc. “I think we’re within two or three weeks of coming to a final deal,” Brandt told the Clarion-Ledger for a May 31 story.

A phone call from CCJ to KLLM seeking comment wasn’t immediately returned.

Ebbers, 65, was convicted of fraud and conspiracy in March 2005 for his role in the accounting scandal that led to WorldCom’s demise. He now is serving his sentence in the Federal Correctional Institution in Oakdale, La.

The $11 billion accounting fraud forced former Clinton, Miss.-based WorldCom into bankruptcy in 2002. When it emerged from bankruptcy, it changed its name to MCI and moved its headquarters to Virginia. MCI since has been sold to Verizon.

In the settlement, Ebbers turned over all his assets except enough money to purchase a home for his wife and an allowance for her. Ebbers also was able to keep enough money to pay attorneys representing him during appeals.

Brandt told the Clarion-Ledger he expects Development Specialists to turn “just a bit over” $70 million to the trust. “We’ve already dispersed $43 million to the beneficiaries and will likely disperse over $20 million more,” he told the newspaper.

The properties sold were worth more than $70 million combined, but almost every piece of property was encumbered with a mortgage or lien, Brandt told the newspaper. “Mr. Ebbers lived on leverage,” he told the Clarion-Ledger.

Initially, it was forecast that the sale of Ebbers’ assets would bring between $15 million to $40 million, Brandt told the Clarion-Ledger.