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Crack Team Hunts 'Zombie' Corporations
August 28, 2065
NEW YORK--A U. S. Treasury Department spokesperson confirmed Wednesday the existence of an elite team of economists, financial experts, and government prosecutors dedicated to hunting down and eliminating zombie corporations. "The threat posed by zombies is quite real," explains the unidentified Treasury spokesperson. "Zombie companies have been terrorizing the Wilshire 5000 for long enough. We've assembled a dedicated search-and-destroy team. The days of the zombies are numbered."
Zombie corporations, described by the team spokesperson as "soulless, capital-eating monsters," arise, for little-understood reasons, during the bankruptcies of certain large, complex corporations. Characterized by an absence of shareholders, directors, and upper-management, zombies continue to function like real corporations but without recognizable assets or revenues. "It's a rather bizarre phenomenon," explains Jurgen Wentz, Chairman of the IRS Standing Committee on Undead Financial Entities. "Zombies are completely bankrupt, they have been completely dissolved, their assets liquidated and distributed, and yet, somehow, they continue prowling the Street, threatening the living."
Because they lack management and traceable assets, zombies have proved particularly difficult to track down. "It's quite common for zombies to have wholly-owned subsidiaries that are real, living, breathing companies," explains Wentz. "The only way to ferret out the zombies is to keep tracing ownership as far back as you can. If it's a zombie, you'll find a vacuum at the top; everything will just seem to lead nowhere. Nobody will own it; nobody will be running it. Just nothing. That's a zombie."
Experts differ over explanations for the ability of zombies to continue functioning after bankruptcy and for their apparently insatiable appetite for shares in living corporations. "We do know that zombies prey on firms with depressed market prices," opines Wentz. "Exactly how they launch their takeovers without assets, without management, and without shareholders of their own remains a mystery. Often the takeover happens and nobody even knows a zombie has been involved, it's just munch, munch, munch, the prey is driven into bankruptcy by the zombie and becomes a zombie itself."
In addition to hostile takeovers, zombies have reportedly attacked companies with deadly "brain drains", hiring away upper-management with the promise of millions of options in the zombie. "Because they have no shareholders to answer to, zombies can just print as many options as they want," notes Wentz. "No shareholders, no dilution. No dilution, no problem."
Adam Bendleton, a sales engineer at Introtech, a mid-sized software and services company, witnessed such an attack first hand: "It was eerie. I came into work one day and management was gone, just gone, just a bunch of resignation letters and that was it. I don't know what's going to happen now."
Citing strategic reasons for keeping the special team's hunting techniques secret, Treasury spokespeople did confirm speculation that zombies originate offshore and are rooted in complex ownership relationships among bankrupt companies, offshore holding companies, and off-book partnerships and subsidiaries.
"We don't want to say much more than that at this point," notes an unidentified member of the zombie-hunting team. "But it is our belief that all existing zombies were 'made' by a master zombie, and that if we take out the master we'll take out all the progeny."
Asked about the identity of the mysterious 'master zombie,' Treasury spokespeople indicated that they were pursuing multiple leads and had reason to believe that, in life, it had been a powerful player in the energy sector.
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