Harbinger Quits Media General Board, Stock

Mar 19 2009 | 2:46am ET

Activist hedge fund Harbinger Capital Partners may have won the battle, but Media General has apparently won the war.

After waging a knock-down, drag-out, and successful, proxy battle with the owner of the Richmond (Va.) Times-Dispatch and Tampa (Fla.) Tribune to win representation on the company’s board, Harbinger is giving up those seats. The New York hedge fund, which once owned 18% of Media General’s Class A shares, has dumped most of its holdings in the company.

Harbinger has pushed Richmond-based Harbinger to cut its debt and sell its Florida holdings, which include WFLA, the state’s highest-rated television station. The hedge fund also attacked Media General’s dual-share structure, which guarantees the Bryan family’s control over the company.

But Jack Liebau, Eugene Davis and Daniel Sullivan remained outnumbered on the nine-member board of directors, and were further marginalized when Media General increased the size of its board to 11 to give seats to two former directors ousted by the Harbinger nominees.

Media General plans to cut the size of its board back to nine with the departure of the Harbinger representatives.

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