IFE’s family matter offers stock answer

NEW YORK — Intl. Family Entertainment Inc. says its controlling shareholder, the Robertson family, won’t get a better deal than other shareholders if the company concludes negotiations to be acquired by News Corp.

In an unusual statement, IFE confirmed it was “currently engaged in discussions concerning a possible strategic relationship, which may or may not result in a transaction.” IFE stock rose $1.50 to $24.12 on the news.

But it went out of its way to avoid identifying the other side of the talks, although execs from both IFE and News have confirmed in press interviews over the past few months that a deal is being negotiated.

IFE, which owns the Family Channel, was responding to press reports last week that the Robertson family was trying to get a much higher price for its supervoting stock than the common stock.

“Pat Robertson and Tim Robertson, who own or control 100% of the company’s class A common stock, are committed to the principle that the class A stockholders and class B stockholders should receive equivalent treatment,” IFE said in a statement.

Through their class A holdings, the Robertsons have 60% of IFE’s voting rights. The family owns just 5.5% of the class B stock.

The statement may have been prompted by money manager Mario Gabelli, who owns 16.42% of IFE’s stock and who complained angrily about reports that the family would get a higher price for its stock. Gabelli could not be reached for comment Friday.

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