Star Tribune owners spurn Taylor/Opperman bid

With the close of business Monday, it’s official; Glen Taylor and Vance Opperman won’t get the minimum 25 percent Star Tribune stake they sought, according to the Strib’s Susan Feyder.

This is a good thing, not because I think Taylor and Opperman would be bad owners. It establishes a floor for the Strib’s equity — Taylor told me last month they were offering $16.41 a share — and it shows the current owners believe enough in the upside to spurn their first chance to cash out. Depending on just how bargain-basement the price was, this at least partially validates job-cutting board chair Mike Sweeney’s contention that the paper’s post-bankruptcy balance sheet looks strong.

According to Feyder, Taylor and Opperman could abandon the bid, raise it, or buy what shares have been tendered (no percentage is listed). In the latter case, one of the big questions is if that would be enough to earn them board seats they apparently covet. Not all of the Strib’s Big Five owners own 25 percent (that’s mathematically impossible), and it will be interesting to see if the new board still wants the local moguls’ expertise, and if they want to share it.

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Hiram Foster on 12/01/2009 - 08:19 am.

    The Strib’s action with respect to the Taylor Opperman offer didn’t establish a floor. Future prospective buyers are free to offer either more or less for a piece of the Star Tribune. The rejection of the offer merely establishes that the owners didn’t like the bid they received yesterday for reasons they seem not to have disclosed. It might be reasonable to assume that this was because in owners’ judgment the prospects of the newspaper might improve, but they have been consistently wrong about the Strib’s prospects in the past, and there is no reason now to assume that the quality of their business judgment has improved.

    At this point, it’s hard to imagine that there is any equity value in the Star Tribune at all. That’s why it was mysterious both that Taylor and Opperman made the offer and that the Star Tribune rejected it.

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