History’s top 10 bankruptcies

With Wall Street in a state of dismay, it’s probably a good time to revisit the biggest bankruptcies in history – courtesy of Time.com.

With Wall Street in a state of dismay, it’s probably a good time to revisit the biggest bankruptcies in history – courtesy of Time.com.

1. This week’s collapse of Lehman Brothers, which has more than $US639 billion in assets, has become the biggest bankruptcy in history.

2. Telecommunications group WorldCom not only went under in 2002 with $US104 billion in assets, but CEO Bernard Ebbers was sentenced to 25 years in prison for fraud. The company has since reinvented itself as MCI Inc.

3. Energy company Enron was a high flier until insiders released information of accounting fraud. They filed for bankruptcy in 2001 with $US66 billion in assets. Executives Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were both charged and convicted of fraud.

4. Good old fashioned debt saw finance and insurance group Conseco die off in 2002 with $US61 billion. Once trading at over $US58 per share, its value dropped below $1 once the bankruptcy news spread.

5. Wholesale energy prices took the life of California’s largest publically owned energy group PG&E, with $US36 billion in assets.

6. Here’s one that didn’t end too badly. Oil company Texaco filed for bankruptcy with $US35 billion in assets in 1987, but emerged less than a year later as part of Chevron.

7. The savings and loans crisis of the 1980s had a few casualties, but among its biggest was the Financial Corp of America. It went down with $US34 billion in assets in 1988.

8. Just two months after going public, commodities brokerage Refco filed for bankruptcy with $US33 billion in 2005. Former president Tone N Grant was sentenced to 10 years in prison last month.

9. This has been a bad year for bankruptcies. Fleeing investors and loan defaults saw the IndyMac group file with $US33 billion in assets in June.

10. Telecommunications group Global Crossing was on the dark side of the dot-com bubble, filing for bankruptcy in 2002 with $30 billion in assets. After being investigated by the United States Congress with no charges laid, it was smacked with a fine of $US100,000 by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

See also: History’s top 10 computer viruses

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