Press On: Dissidents Get Media General Board Seats
Shortly before the vote, Harbinger scored an important victory with the announcement by one of the company's biggest shareholders, Mario J. Gabelli, that he would support their candidates: J. Daniel Sullivan, a broadcast executive, F. Jack Liebau Jr., an investment manager, and Eugene I. Davis, a consultant who specializes in reviving struggling companies.
Harbinger also drummed up support from investment advisory firms.
While their election gives Harbinger a say in Media General's direction, neither the private-equity firm or other shareholders will be able to dictate strategy.
Media General has a two-tiered voting structure that preserves the control of the company's historic owners, the Bryan family. The Bryan family owns Class B shares that elect six of the board's nine members; regular Class A shares, including Harbinger's and Gabelli's, elect the other three.
In mid-March, the private-equity firm reached a compromise with the Ochs-Sulzbergers, who control The New York Times Company--placing two Harbinger nominees on the NYTCO board of directors. Harbinger and its partner Firebrand had originally proposed a slate of four nominees.
The compromise also increased the size of the NYTCO board, from 13 to 15 directors. Like Media General, NYTCO has a two-tiered voting structure that preserves the Ochs-Sulzbergers' control of the company.