Largest Public Owner of Media General Stock Sides with Dissidents in Proxy Fight
Mario Gabelli,the largest public owner of stock in Media General, announced today that he supports efforts by dissident investors Harbinger Capital Partners to force three directors onto the company's board.
This move means the two largest holders of stock outside the family which controls Media General want voices from outside the company to have a say in the corporation's future actions. It also means Media General's fight to get its own slate of three directors elected to the board just got tougher. Gabelli has already indicated that he supported one of the directors nominated by Harbinger and Gabelli's longtime criticisms of the company often have mirrored Harbinger's points.
Media General, like many news companies, has two types of stock. The family of board chairman J. Stewart Bryan III controls the Class B stock which elects six of the board's nine members. Class A stockholders elect the other three, and in March, Harbinger nominated three contenders for the board to oppose those selected by Media General.
Since this struggle became public, the proxy analysis firms ISS Governance Services and Glass Lewis have recommended stockholders seat at least one of the directors nominated by Harbinger. And all this unrest comes as Media General has allowed half its 1,326 employees at its outlets in Florida -- including WFLA-Ch. 8 and the Tampa Tribune -- to apply for buyouts to avoid layoffs.
Stockholders will vote on seating the Class A directors April 24, one day before Florida employees must notify Media General whether they will take the buyout.
Harbinger's press release about Gabelli follows.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Harbinger Capital Partners Comments on GAMCO Support for the Election of
Harbinger's Three Nominees to Media General’s Board of Directors.
New York, NY, April 16, 2008 – Harbinger Capital Partners Master Fund I, Ltd. and
Harbinger Capital Partners Special Situations Fund, L.P. (together, “Harbinger Capital
Partners”) today released the following statement regarding the April 15, 2008 letter sent
by GAMCO, an investment firm lead by Mario J. Gabelli and the largest Class A
common stockholder of Media General (NYSE: MEG), to Media General in which it
disclosed that it will support all three of Harbinger Capital Partners’ proposed nominees
at the company’s upcoming annual stockholders meeting:
“We are gratified that Mario Gabelli, a significant, long-time stockholder and
close observer of Media General, supports our three nominees and agrees with our
conclusion that significant change is needed at the company,” said Joseph
Cleverdon, Vice President and Director of Investments, Harbinger Capital
Partners. “Our highly qualified nominees will bring experience, judgment,
independence and accountability to the board.”
Harbinger Capital Partners strongly encourages all remaining stockholders to vote for all
three of its nominees on the GREEN proxy card at the Media General upcoming annual
stockholders meeting scheduled for April 24, 2008.
On March 19, 2008, Harbinger Capital Partners filed a definitive proxy statement
with the SEC to solicit proxies in connection with the 2008 Annual Meeting of
stockholders of Media General, Inc. to be held on April 24, 2008. Company
stockholders are encouraged to read the definitive proxy statement and other proxy
materials relating to the 2008 Annual Meeting because they contain important
information, including a description of who may be deemed to be “participants” in
the solicitation of proxies and the direct or indirect interests, by security holdings or
otherwise, of the participants in the solicitation. Such proxy materials are available
at no charge on the SEC’s website at http//www.sec.gov.