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Another Lawsuit Seeks to Stop Disney’s Maker Studios Acquisition

Maker Studios is the target of a lawsuit by a disgruntled ex-employee who is seeking to block the Walt Disney Co.’s $500 million-plus deal to acquire the YouTube multichannel network.

In the suit, Andy Faberlle, who identifies himself as a Maker Studios shareholder, claims the MCN and key execs including current CEO Ynon Kreiz “illegally obtained Maker shares and illegally voted those shares in favor of a merger with Disney.” The lawsuit requests that the votes in favor of the Disney deal be rescinded, or — if the deal is completed before resolution of the suit — that the merger “must be unwound.”

In a similar legal move last week, Maker ex-CEO Danny Zappin and three other former execs sought to block a shareholder vote on the Disney acquisition, alleging Maker failed to address charges they made in their 2013 lawsuit that MCN execs and investors illegally issued shares to themselves and diluted the common stock “for their own financial gain to the detriment of other Maker shareholders.” On Monday, a Los Angeles Superior Court denied the request.

SEE ALSO: Maker Studios Says Disney Acquisition Is Approved by Shareholders, Who Reject Relativity Bid

Maker Studios declined to comment. Feberlle’s lawsuit was filed April 15 in the same L.A. court. He is represented by Michelman & Robinson, the same law firm that repped Zappin and the three others in the previous suits.

In the company’s April 10 response to the Zappin-led suit, Maker Studios said the claims were “patently meritless” and that the litigation was “a reckless attempt, based on a quixotic personal vendetta, to throw sand in the gears of the (Disney) merger and endanger the interests of all Maker’s shareholders.” According to a source familiar with the deal, a majority of Maker shareholders had already voted to approve the Disney offer around the time of the announcement on March 24.

Maker said its board had decided that because of Zappin’s “increasingly erratic behavior” and past legal troubles, they would be forced to fire him if he didn’t resign as CEO — and that Zappin accepted the severance package offered to him in May 2013. According to Maker, Zappin had said he was “never cut out for the role of CEO” and viewed himself as “a liability going forward.” In addition, the company denied the exec’s charges that he was “required and/or tricked” into selling stock. Maker also disclosed that Zappin had offered to buy Maker Studios in February for $200 million (or sell his stake at a valuation of $400 million).

Separately, Relativity Media on Sunday submitted a surprise bid to acquire Maker for up to $1.1 billion in mostly stock with a cash component, promising Maker execs and creators better financial rewards than Disney’s all-cash bid. On Monday, Maker said the majority of its shareholders had approved the Disney deal, rejecting Relativity’s overture.

The litigation by Feberlle was reported earlier by the Hollywood Reporter.

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