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At about the same time, the world began to learn a lot more about WorldCom's big loans to Ebbers, intended to help him pay off margin loans so that he wouldn't be required to sell huge blocks of WorldCom stock--a move that might stampede already jumpy investors. Ebbers last week said he had "a 1,000% clear conscience" about the loans, $366 million of which he still owes. But he conceded, "We probably shouldn't have done it." Says a top WorldCom exec: "Tying up so much of your financial life in one single investment like that was really dumb."
Perhaps. But his faith in WorldCom was and is classic Ebbers, and many individual shareholders find it endearing. To hold on to more of his WorldCom stock, he recently sold a favorite toy: a 60-ft. yacht he had named Aquasition.