As the board of directors at Fisher Communications battles against a dissident shareholder group that wants to sell the entire company, the board has also moved to sell the company’s biggest non-broadcast asset, Fisher Plaza. The building in downtown Seattle serves as Fisher’s headquarters, but is 60% leased to other occupants.
Dissatisfied shareholders had criticized Fisher management for holding onto the valuable real estate, rather than selling it to focus on the company’s core business. In view of that criticism, CEO Colleen Brown noted in her most recent Wall Street conference call that the company had put Fisher Plaza on the market, but pulled it back as the real estate recession began. Indeed, back in 2008 RBR-TVBR reported that Fisher Communications was considering the sale of Fisher Plaza.
Fisher has now retained Moelis & Company as its financial advisor to “explore alternatives for maximizing the value of Fisher Plaza.” If that results in a financing or sale transaction the proceeds will be used to, among other things, redeem Fisher’s 8 5/8% senior notes or buyback common stock. Under the terms of the senior notes the company can redeem up to approximately $32 million at just under 103% of face value.
Fisher Plaza is a 300,000 square foot facility. It houses Fisher’s corporate offices, two TV stations, four radio stations, the Fisher Pathways video switching hub and various tenants, particularly companies involved in telecommunications and high-tech. It is, after all, Seattle.
RBR-TVBR observation: What is Fisher Plaza worth? According to the company’s annual report it had a book value of $106 million as of December 31, 2010 and was 96% occupied, including 41% occupied by Fisher entities. The company estimated the asset value of Fisher Plaza at $108.3 million in the same report. Both figures, however, likely underestimate the price the building would fetch on the open market as economic conditions improve.