BET Board: Johnson, Liberty Bid Too Low1/25/1998 7:00 PM Eastern
An independent committee of Black Entertainment
Television's board of directors determined last week that a proposed $48-per-share
minority stock-buyout offer, initiated by BET chairman Robert Johnson and Liberty Media
Group in September, was too low.
Johnson and Liberty will now have to negotiate a higher
buyout offer, which analysts predicted could fall between $54 and $60 per share for the 6
million outstanding BET shares that they do not own.
Delano E. Lewis, president of National Public Radio -- who
served as the one-man special committee -- reported to the board that the $48-per-share
purchase price was not adequate, according to BET. Lewis was appointed in September, after
BET shareholders angrily complained that Johnson and Liberty -- which hold 65 percent of
BET stock -- had undervalued the company.
News of the buyout offer in September immediately pushed BET's stock to all-time
highs of over $50 per share, where it has since remained.
Late last Friday morning, the stock was at $53.25 per
share, down 13 cents from Thursday's close.
Representatives from BET and Liberty would not comment on
Breck Wheeler, media and entertainment analyst for J.C.
Bradford, said last Friday that she was not surprised at Lewis' decision. She expects
BET to now move into the final round of negotiations with shareholders to determine a
buyout price, which she feels will fall between $54 and $60.
Johnson's and Liberty's move initially surprised
many industry observers, who had watched the stock rise considerably from $17 per share
when it first went public in 1991 to the $39 that it was averaging prior to the takeover
bid. The initial bid put BET Holdings Inc.'s valuation at about $800 million, not
including overall debt, but new bids could push the value toward $900 million to $1