BET buyout bid sweetened

Bid up 31%, to $63 a share

NEW YORK — Black Entertainment Television chairman Robert Johnson and Liberty Media raised their offer for the outstanding stock in BET’s parent company, BET Holdings, by 31%, to $63 a share or a total cost of $378 million, marking a small victory for BET’s outside shareholders.

The revised offer was accepted by BET’s board on the recommendation of a special independent committee of one director and its investment bank adviser, BET said in a statement, although it still has to be approved by a majority of outside shareholders.

Johnson and Liberty, which between them own 72% of BET stock and are bidding for the rest, raised their offer from the original bid of $48.

That offer, made in September, had been roundly criticized by shareholders for being too low. Money managers valued BET at $70-$75 a share.

Reaction from shareholders was tepid. Mario Gabelli, who owns 10.2% of BET stock, said the higher offer was “on the lower end of an acceptable range. … It’s OK.”

“Anything between $60 and $80 was acceptable,” Gabelli added, noting that he would be satisfied if the deal was done and shareholders were paid by June.

Wall Street signaled its view that the offer would go through, sending BET stock up $6.06, to close Monday at $60.56. “We believe this is an important step for BET Holdings, which continues to show significant progress and growth as a company,” BET president Debra Lee said in a statement.

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