Adelphia Communications Corp.'s ruling Rigas family may be getting ready to
pay off an $813 million commitment to buy the MSO's stock and notes three months
ahead of a deadline in a bid to reassure shareholders worried that the family
would have to sell some stock to meet that obligation, sources said.
That move of reassurance may have already helped Adelphia's stock, which fell
hard in recent weeks but ticked up nicely Wednesday. It gave back some of those
gains Thursday, closing at $22.74, but it rebounded to $23.48 per share
Highland 2000 -- the investment vehicle of Adelphia chairman John Rigas and
members of his family -- faces an Oct. 22 deadline to buy $250 million in stock
at $42.96 per share and $163 million in notes at $43.96 each as part of an
earlier offering, according to securities filings.
A second payment of $400 million is due Jan. 22 for convertible notes at
$55.49 per share -- more than double Adelphia's current stock price.
The stock-and-note purchases are part of two financing deals Adelphia cut
this past January and April to raise money to pay down debt. According to one
debt analyst, who asked not to be named, Highland agreed to the purchases to
show investors its commitment to the company and to improve shareholder value.
Even at the time of the offerings, the prices represented about a 24 percent
premium on Adelphia shares.
The problem for the Rigas family is that Adelphia's stock has fallen since
then. At current prices, the stock buys would be at an 80 percent premium and
the notes would be purchased at a 100 percent premium.
Instead of wriggling out of the deal, the Rigases appear to be preparing to
pay off the entire commitment in one fell swoop in an effort to show
shareholders that the commitment was never in doubt.
Adelphia stock has been hammered in the past few weeks, partly as investors
wondered whether the Rigases could meet the Oct. 22 deadline without selling off
a huge amount of their Adelphia holdings, analysts said.
The Coudersport, Pa.-based MSO hit a new 52-week low of $18.56 per share Oct.
2 before rallying slightly to close at $19.69 that day.
Adelphia rebounded to $23.87 Oct. 3, which some analysts attributed to
investors catching wind of the company's ability to meet the obligation.
Sources close to the company say Adelphia management has been telling some
analysts and investors that the situation will be handled without diluting their
'[The Rigases] are not going to do something to put additional sell pressure
on the stock,' one source close to Adelphia said.