selling shares to grow E-Car? or to buy out MI Developments?

Stronach sells $124-million of Magna shares

GREG KEENAN
Monday, December 20, 2010

Frank Stronach has sold more than two million Magna International Inc. shares in recent weeks to cut his stake in the company to about 6.4 per cent from 7.4 per cent, but says he has no plans to sell all his shares in the auto parts giant that he founded 53 years ago.

Mr. Stronach sold 2.449 million shares between Dec. 7 and Dec. 16 at prices ranging between $50.40 (U.S.) and $51.86 for a total of $124-million. He remains the largest shareholder and chairman of Magna.

The shares are among nine million common shares in Magna he received earlier this year along with $300-million in cash as part of a controversial $860-million buyout of the multiple-voting shares through which he controlled the company since 1978.

As part of the deal, he received part of Magna’s E-Car electric vehicle business, which is now a joint venture between Mr. Stronach and Magna.

“I need money for E-Car, I need money for other things I have an interest in,” he said Monday.

Among those other things is his planned buyout of the minority shareholders of MI Developments Inc., a real estate and racetrack company that he controls through multiple-voting shares and of which he is also chairman.

Minority shareholders of MI Developments have battled him for years, mainly over loans the company made to Magna Entertainment Corp. (MEC), a racetrack and gambling company in which MI Developments held 59 per cent until MEC tumbled into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in the United States in 2009. MI Developments picked up several racetracks and other gambling assets as part of the bankruptcy process.

Mr. Stronach has made a $600-million bid to buy out the minority shareholders of MI Developments at a price of $13 a share.

Since the bid was launched, however, shares of the company, which owns the land underneath many Magna auto parts plants, have risen to more than $18. They closed at $18.47 (Canadian) on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Monday.

Appraisals and valuations of assets of MI Developments are being performed now, Mr. Stronach said.

He said he’s not sure if he’ll have to boost his $13-a-share offer to the minority shareholders in light of the increase in the share price since he announced his bid in October. “I have to think about it,” he said.

Mr. Stronach also donated 29,600 common shares to the University of Florida. The sales and donation leave him with 15.5 million common shares and options to purchase another 2.7 million common shares, of which 183,332 have vested and can be exercised within 60 days.

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