I recently asked a question with regards to 36 physical shares of motorola inc from 1999 I found lying around. Thanks to the great answer I received (if you're wondering they're worth around $3000), I did some more digging and found my other old paper shares.

Apparently my business sense was quite bad back then as all of the companies I have shares in unbelievably have all been broken up since then, haha

I've got 10 EMC shares from 2001 (bought by DELL), 18 Motorola shares from 1996 (which has split up) and 10 level 3 shares from 2000 (which no longer exists).

I don't expect much from the level 3 shares as I am pretty sure they went pseudo-bankrupt, but does anyone know the value of the other ones and how to sell them? I've been trying to look online but its pretty hard to find anything besides info on stocksplit history

  • 10
    "Broken up", as you say, doesn't necessarily mean your business sense was bad! Some of these companies, for example, have been bought out, which could mean a pretty good deal. Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 2:25
  • "my business sense was quite bad back then" → To be fair, back in 1996 Motorola was around $70 a share, and tripled its value in the following years to around $220 a share in 2000 before the dotcom bubble burst...
    – walen
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 9:50
  • 4
    How did you get paper shares? I would love to have paper shares, specifically so that I can give them to nephews as birthday gifts Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 18:22

2 Answers 2


Let's have a look at the various corporate actions for these companies to see what events would affect your shareholding.

EMC Corporate Actions

  • Feb 2001: 0.0369:1 Spinoff of McData. Cash paid for fractional shares.
  • 2003-2016: Dividends totalling $1.435 per share
  • Sep 2016: Taken over by Dell, paying $24.05 cash + 0.111 VMware tracking stock (DVMT)

VMWare Tracking Stock Corporate Actions

  • Known as Dell Technology Class V shares, trading as DVMT
  • Dec 2018 When Dell Technology went public, you had the option to convert the shares to Class C shares on a 1.8130 :1 basis or receive $120 in cash, fractional amounts paid in cash. Symbol changed to DELL.

Level 3 Communications Corporate Actions

  • Oct 2011: Reverse split 1:15, so your 10 shares became 0.6667 shares. Since your holding would have been fractional, you would have been paid out at a rate determined by the company. On the day prior to the reverse split being effective, LVLT traded at $1.55, so your holdings would have been worth about $15.
  • Oct 2017, LVLT was taken over by CenturyLink - $26.50 cash + 1.4286 shares of CenturyLink. However, you would not have participated in this.

Motorola Corporate Actions

Motorola Inc had the following corporate actions since 1996:

  • Jun 2000: 3:1 Stock split (so your 18 shares became 54 shares)
  • Dec 2004: 0.110415:1 Spinoff of Freescale Semiconductor Class B shares (i.e. 5.96 shares, with the fractional share paid as cash)
  • Dec 2006: Freescale Semiconductor was taken over in an all-cash deal ($40/share). So 5 shares * 40 = $200.
  • Jan 2011: 1:8 Spinoff of Motorola Mobility. You've now got 6.75 shares of Motorola Mobility (MMI). Fractional shares paid in cash.
  • Jan 2011: Motorola Inc changed name to Motorola Solutions Inc. Symbol changed to MSI.
  • Jan 2011: Reverse split 1:7. Your 54 MSI shares become 7.71 shares (fractional amount would have been paid in cash)
  • May 2012: Motorola Mobility taken over by Google in all cash deal ($40/share).
  • 1996 to today: Motorola/Motorola Solutions paid/pay quarterly dividends. The other spunoff companies never paid dividends.


Assuming you're able to claim all of these events, here's the value as of 19 July 2019:

  • 7 MSI shares (close price was $168.91) so they're worth $1182.
  • 1 DELL share (close price $57.95) = $57.95
  • You're owed some of the fractional cash amounts from the various splits/spinoffs.
  • You're owed $15.50 from the reverse split of Level 3
  • You're owed $200 from the Freescale Semiconductor takeover
  • You're owed $240 from the Motorola Mobility takeover
  • You're owed $240.50 from the EMC takeover
  • You're owed around $200 in dividends from Motorola / Motorola Solutions since 1996


You should get in touch with the Investor Relations department of:

You might also find it helpful to contact the Share registry/transfer agents:

Depending upon the jurisdiction, statute of limitations etc. some (or all) of these entitlements may be unavailable.

Be sure you report back here with a comment about how you get on.

  • 28
    Wow, this is very detailed and it looks like you know exactly what you're talking about and have a lot of time invested in knowing that you know. Do you have any recommendations on learning about the volatility of shares, perhaps a book on why and how share splits and share spinoffs work? To me it looks like splits and spinoffs seem unfair arbitration on the valuation of stocks. But I'm a finance noob.
    – insidesin
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 1:40
  • @insidesin I can't speak to the fairness, particularly in regard to reverse-splits, but spinoffs occur when a division or line of business is broken off into a separate legal entity. This can happen for a lot of fair reasons, but it is overall fair that a shareholder of the parent company gets a stake in the offspring (after all some of the value of the parent company is moving to the new one.) This can happen in the other direction too, all of the acquisitions listed here were cash only, but shareholders of an acquired company often receive shares of the purchaser instead of cash.)
    – Mr.Mindor
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 14:00
  • 2
    @insidesin as far as the reverse-splits go, the shareholder doesn't actually lose value. if you have 100 shares worth $100, and there is a 1:10 reverse split, you now have 10 shares worth $100. This is a generalization, I'm sure there have been situations where shareholders actually lost out in some way, but it probably strictly speaking wasn't due to the mechanics of the split.
    – Mr.Mindor
    Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 14:07
  • 2
    There are quite a few situations in which there is a simultaneous reverse split and forward split (for the same ratio) on the same date. These appear to be used to flush out minority shareholders by paying them out. These don't appear to apply to this scenario. Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 14:10
  • 1
    Thanks for the support everyone. Seems like I had a misunderstanding as to how the stocks worked in this instance. Reassuring to know I was wrong in my skepticism!
    – insidesin
    Commented Jul 23, 2019 at 1:14

It is difficult to answer the question without doing several time-consuming things. I will, however, tell you how to do them.

The question as to their worth depends on what happened during the mergers. Other firms purchased all three firms or were broken into different parts, but all three still exist in some form.

No one can compel you to sell your shares so if you did nothing during a merger and the firm did not partially liquidate or wholly liquidate as part of the merger, then you still own those shares.

In the case where the subsidiary firm still exists, and they did not cash out small shareholders, then you are a minority shareholder. You still are a fractional owner of those subsidiaries. You are entitled to any dividends if they are declared. If you have gone missing and they do not know even if you are still alive, the shares have probably escheated to the state you lived in at the time. The first thing you should do is contact the companies directly or the parent. You may also have dividends in possession of the state.

In some mergers, minor shareholders are paid out in cash because it costs too much to transfer small positions. They may have legally liquidated and sent you a check. You are entitled to that check.

The shares are likely escheated, but they may still be in your name. It is strange you have received no communications in all of this time. Part of the Motorola shares are part of a public firm, and you can sell them on the open market. The other firms are now private. There is no market for their shares. You are entitled to any dividends, and if the firm were liquidated, then you are entitled to any residue.

If they are in your name, you just need to update your information with them so that you can vote at the subsidiary shareholders meeting, which will be meaningless as you own a few shares and one shareholder holds millions. Nonetheless, if it passes income from subsidiary to parent, that is a dividend, and you should get a check.

If they have been escheated to the state, then you need to go through the state's process to reclaim the shares and any dividends. If you have never received a dividend check, you should still check with the unclaimed property division of the state you lived in at that time.

The buying firm may want to be rid of you. It is possible that they will make you an offer, but there is no requirement that they do so. They may also just ignore you. You own part of the company, but if there are no dividends and they are assured control, then they are obligated to manage the subsidiary for the highest return, but they are not required to actually issue a check to anyone, including the new parent.

  • 4
    nice answer and very relevant (and goes beyond my limited knowledge of state-based jurisdtictional rules). Commented Jul 22, 2019 at 14:38

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