Intl. Family pulls back in pursuit of Nostalgia

Televangelist Pat Robertson’s Intl. Family Entertainment Inc. called off its tender offer for Nostalgia Network Inc. Thursday, apparently recognizing that stockholders were balking at its $ 2 a share offer.

But IFE did not close the door on Nostalgia altogether. Indeed, by not announcing plans to walk away from the deal completely, IFE led most observers to expect it will come back with another offer. IFE refused to tip its hand.

“That’s just an open question,” IFE financial relations veepee David R. Humphrey said of the company’s future plans for Nostalgia. “That’s one we’re leaving open.”

IFE, which made its original tender offer in November and revised it twice since, was not getting much support from shareholders. In part, that’s because Nostalgia urged shareholders to reject the bid each time, and because IFE acknowledged in a regulatory filing that it would consider offering as much as $ 3 a share under certain conditions.

Nostalgia is holding out hope that IFE will come back. “The company hopes this is a precursor to a realistic bid,” Nostalgia said in a statement.

And sources said a number of other companies have entered agreements with Nostalgia to look over its confidential documents in order to prepare a bid. At least one of those suitors is said to be larger than the well-heeled IFE.

It’s still possible that IFE, which has also looked over Nostalgia’s books, might simply walk away. Nostalgia is a money-losing network whose board has been split between loyalists to the company’s chairman, Michael Marcovsky, and representatives of Concept Communications Inc., which holds a large chunk of the company and has ties to Rev. Sun Myung Moon’s Unification Church.

Recently, Warner Cable bumped Nostalgia off its Manhattan lineup only to agree earlier this week to give it three hours a day on a different channel.

Nostalgia shares closed at $ 2, down 31 cents in Nasdaq trading.

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