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ETF News

CORRECTED - American Tower sues rival, alleged CEO imposter

(In Dec. 28 story, corrects throughout to Fortune magazine from Money magazine)

NEW YORK, Dec 28 (Reuters) - American Tower Corp AMT.N sued a former Goldman Sachs executive who heads a rival wireless tower operator on Friday, alleging he impersonated its chief while e-mailing a negative article about it to two large investors.

According to the complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan, Jide Zeitlin, a former global chief operating officer of Goldman Sachs GS.N investment banking, contacted a Fortune magazine reporter he knew and provided her with negative information about American Tower.

Zeitlin, the founder of private equity firm Keffi Group Ltd, then used an e-mail tool on CNN.com Web site to send a copy of the Fortune report to two of American Tower’s large investors, the company alleged in the complaint. The outgoing email address made it seem like the sender was American Tower Chief Executive James Taiclet, it said.

Fortune magazine and CNN belong to Time Warner Inc TWX.N.

American Tower said Zeitlin had previously acknowledged misappropriating Taiclet’s identity and sending the e-mail via CNN.com, but had refused to cooperate with its efforts to further investigate his actions.

The Boston-based company is suing for defamation, computer fraud and other claims and is seeking damages.

Zeitlin founded Keffi and India-based Independent Mobile Infrastructure Ltd, which compete directly with American Tower in the international mobile telecommunications infrastructure business, according to the complaint.

He also serves on the boards of Coach Inc COH.N and Affiliated Managers Group Inc AMG.N, it said. The lawsuit also names Keffi and Independent Mobile as defendants.

Zeitlin, a Master of Business Administration from Harvard, could not be reached immediately at his Keffi office in New York.

American Tower said the article about American Tower’s stock option practices was published in October 2006, comparing American Tower’s practices to those of Enron Corp, the giant U.S. energy company that has become a symbol of corporate fraud and corruption.

Zeitlin e-mailed the article to Thomas Stern of Chieftain Capital Management and Nick Advani of Goldman Sachs, two large investors in American Tower.

The e-mail included a message that said “fascinating” and did not indicate that Zeitlin was the sender, according to the complaint.

Chieftain Capital is American Tower’s fifth largest investor with over $600 million invested, while Goldman is its 11th largest investor with more than $300 million, according to the complaint.

“Zeitlin specifically sent the e-mail to Stern and Advani because they manage large institutional investments in American Tower,” it alleged. (Editing by Richard Chang)

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