M&F Offer Could Open Bidding Contest For Nation’s Biggest Check Printer

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NEW YORK – Three law firms announced yesterday they are carefully reviewing billionaire financier Ron Perelman’s bid to take check printer M&F Worldwide private, saying the bid by Perelman’s MacAndrews and Forbes Holdings, which already controls 43% of M&F, could violate securities laws.

Shares in M&F, which owns Harland Clarke check printers, shot up almost 46% yesterday after the $24-a-share offer was announced. Wall Street observers said the offering above the 41% premium offered by Perelman could signal that the bid is too low and may invite other offers.

M&F closed yesterday at $24.06, just above the offer price.

In separate press releases, the three law firms said they are investigating whether the M&F board is adequately shopping the company and working to obtain the best price possible for MFW shareholders. M&F stock has traded as high as $25.90 per share as recently as April 5. Furthermore, M&F stock has a Book Value of $34.03 for the most recent quarter, thus MacAndrews and Forbes, as a 43% owner, may be taking advantage of other shareholders by offering an unfair price for M&F shares.

“We believe that private ownership is in the best interests of the company, as it would result in operational efficiencies and cost savings, while providing management with the flexibility to focus on a long-term perspective without being constrained by the public company emphasis on achieving short-term results,” Barry Schwartz, MacAndrews & Forbes’s chief administrative officer – as well as M&F’s CEO – wrote in a letter to the M&F Worldwide board.

M&F acquired Clarke Holdings in 2005 and John H. Harland Co. in 2007, creating the nation’s largest check printer. M&F also consists of Harland Financial Co., Scantron and Mafco flavors.

Perelman, who made his name during the 1970s and 1980s as a corporate raider, is the sole owner of MacAndrews and Forbes, which also owns Revlon cosmetics, Allied Services, Deluxe Entertainment, Scientific Games, Panavision and American general, among others.

 

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