After making a $350 million fortune in cable, corporate fix-and-flip artist Leo Hindery aims to become a billionaire from you guessed it the Internet.
The 51-year-old ex-Wall Streeter, who got rich engineering cable TV's turnaround and sale of the century last fall, is taking charge of the world's biggest fiber-optic pipeline for the Internet and phones, Global Crossing Ltd.
His appointment as chief executive officer was announced last night.
His job, sources say, will be to squeeze billions out of the vast undersea fiber link and data network by spinning off its Internet assets and selling the rest to a buyer, possibly Germany's state-owned telephone company, Deutsche Telekom AG.
Veteran telephone fiber-optics guru Bob Annunziata, who'd been CEO, is relinquishing his duties but will remain a director, while Hindery dresses up the company for a sale.
Hindery made a big hit on Wall Street and among cable industry owners by setting up the sale of once-limping cable TV giant TeleCommunications to AT&T; for $56 billion. His reward was AT&T; stock worth about $350 milion.
He'll use the same game book for the fiber-optics company but this time will probably earn a much bigger fortune for himself, industry sources say.
Hindery came aboard Global Crossing's team just three months ago by taking over its privately held subsidiary, GlobalCenter, which sells pipeline access to many of the online world's biggest names, including Yahoo!
As a sign-on bonus, he got a fat package of GlobalCenter warrants and options that can make him an instant billionaire.
Global Crossing's billionaire founder and chairman, California merchant-banker Gary Winnick, 51, will remain chairman.
"Leo's job will be selling the company he can sell anything to anybody," said one Silicon Valley colleague.
Sources told The Post that Hindery's first step in the two-pronged plan at Global Crossing will be to turn the Internet assets into a high-flying stock, and sell the undersea cables to a buyer, said to be the Germans.
The online assets will first become a tracking stock, the company said last night.
The online assets include a busy "server farm" in Silicon Valley where its big computer network hosts numerous online operations, incuding most of Yahoo!, The Motley Fool, Ziff Davis, MP3 and eToys.
Germany's largest telephone company has been shopping for some time for major U.S. assets to make its worldwide efforts more efficient. Industry reports say it's been talking to Global Crossing in past weeks and alternatively has offered up to $80 billion for a package of two other companies Qwest, headed by Joseph Naccio, and US West.
Analysts think Global Crossing would be a better fit for the Germans because of its big under-sea fiber optic network.
"Not to knock Qwest in any way, but if I had my choice, I would pick Global Crossing," said Peter Treadway, an analyst at Ryan, Beck & Co.