Hearst-Argyle investor demands higher price


Marathon Partners has sent a letter to Hearst-Argyle Television directors insisting that they not agree to "an embarrassingly low tender offer" from Hearst Corporation to buy out public shareholders. Although the stock had sunk recently, the letter notes that Hearst-Argyle was above the 23.50 per share offer for 83% of the past year. "It is absolutely clear that the current offer does not fairly compensate the shareholders of HTV for the unique and valuable assets the company controls. I strongly urge you to reject the 23.50 offer outright," wrote Mario Cibelli, Managing Member of Marathon, which owns more than 90,000 shares of Hearst-Argyle. He quoted from past Wall Street conference calls where Hearst-Argyle CEO David Barrett said that the company’s stock was undervalued. And Cibelli noted how time and again over the years Hearst Corporation had purchased Hearst-Argyle stock on the open market for prices above the 23.50 per share it is now offering. The letter doesn’t state a price that would be fair to minority shareholders and Cibelli says he is not in any hurry to sell. "I have not found a sudden need for liquidity nor do I find the offer price attractive," he noted.