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LABATT "FACING DOWN" INSTITUTIONAL SHAREHOLDER "REVOLT"
Published September 21, 1994
In this morning's WALL STREET JOURNAL, Larry Greenberg reports that institutional shareholders of John Labatt Ltd. are concerned about the company's overall direction, and "nervous about the company's plans to get deeper into the sports and entertainment business." Labatt currently has a varied sports portfolio that includes the Blue Jays, a stake in the Toronto SkyDome, and Canada's TSN sports television network -- "which now generates 'substantial earnings' after years of heavy start-up costs." Greenberg: "Labatt reckons that making investments in other sports teams will boost TSN's advertising revenue. It also wants to take advantage of TSN's expertise by acquiring additional broadcasting interests." Heather Arnold, partner with Toronto pension fund manager Knight, Bain, Seath, & Holbrook said "sports and entertainment are 'glory assets' that enhance management's profile but return little to shareholders." In a plan to "allay" shareholders' concerns, Labatt has a plan to sell 49% of its sports and broadcast businesses -- "a move that analysts estimate could yield proceeds to Labatt of C$500M" and cut "the company's interest in the Blue Jays to about 20 percent" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/21). ALSO FROM THE JOURNAL ... VIDEO GIANTS READY TO BATTLE: Sega of America and Nintendo are preparing to "do battle" during the upcoming holiday season, and both companies -- the nation's two largest video-game makers -- are embracing different strategic approaches. Sega will push its new 32X adapter, which "attaches to [its] Genesis video-game player and transforms it from a 16-bit machine into a 32-bit unit"; while Nintendo says it "will offer a more exciting array of software titles." Jeff Goodby, chairman of Goodby, Berlin & Silverstein, Sega's ad agency: "We've got a product that will make the 15 million Sega Genesis machines now in place 40 times as fast." Nintendo VP/Marketing Peter Main: "Our campaign will stress that you don't have to buy yet more hardware in order to have a great entertainment experience" (Jeffrey Trachtenberg, WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/21).