Gabelli to host Fisher Communications shootout


As the battle for control of Fisher Communications began to heat up early this year, Mario Gabelli (pictured), whose funds constitute the company’s biggest shareholder, suggested that Gabelli & Company might serve as host of a debate on the merits of each side’s proposal. That verbal battle is now set for Thursday (4/21), ahead of the May 11th shareholder vote.

Entering the face-off for the current board of directors (sans one) and management will be Fisher CEO Colleen Brown. The most recent announcement from the management side attacked the claims of dissident shareholder FrontFour Capital and urged shareholders to reject the FrontFour candidates for board seats and elect all four nominees of the board majority.

FrontFour’s David Lorber – currently the only dissident representative on the Fisher board – will come out swinging for the opposition. In pitching for its slate of candidates, FrontFour charged that the company has been underperforming its peers and that current management has missed opportunities to maximize shareholder value – in other words, sell the company’s assets.

Gabelli & Company said its meeting will be a forum for both Fisher and FrontFour to present their views to institutional investors. Gabelli & Company has not yet taken a side in the battle for control of the board, but Mario Gabelli did indicate in a CNBC interview that he would be willing to sell, but at a price higher than the one on the table from Huntingdon REIT, which is a company connected to FrontFour.

RBR-TVBR observation: Investors planning to attend the meeting in New York might want to take a look at the updated valuation analysis by RBR-TVBR. Fisher Communications might fetch a hefty price tag if it is put up for sale, but we doubt that anyone would want to accept the Huntingdon offer as it stands.