Michael Jackson stages turnaround

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Tiger Lilly
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Michael Jackson stages turnaround

Post by Tiger Lilly » Sun Jan 08, 2006 9:23 am

I'm seriously bored with the rumours of Michael's finances, but I thought this was interesting. :)

Michael Jackson stages turnaround
by Richard Morgan Posted 04:44 EST, 6, Jan 2006

Michael Jackson's professional behavior has taken such a bizarre turn toward the rational that the erstwhile King of Pop could have his financial house in order as early as next month.

The House that "Thriller" built and that Jackson has since nearly demolished is still a messy place. But thanks to a short-term extension on $200 million of debt collateralized by his stake in the so-called Beatles song catalog – not to mention new representation intent on resolving outstanding legal and financial matters – sources familiar with Jackson's finances are more optimistic than they've been in months about averting bankruptcy.

Moreover, the singer appears sufficiently recovered from his June acquittal of child molestation charges to have retained advisers who have more going for them than, as has previously been charged, "having Michael's ear." New legal representation from Jackson's post-trial base in Bahrain has even been complimented by a critical U.S. observer for providing "good advice."

Much of that advice concerns Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a music-­publishing joint venture between Jackson and Sony Corp. While it's informally known as the Beatles catalog, the copyrights Sony/ATV either owns or administers extend far beyond the Fab Four to include songs by Leonard Cohen, Miles Davis, Neil Diamond, Bob Dylan, the Everly Brothers, Jimi Hendrix and many others.

Borrowing against his stake in Sony/ATV – a half-share that court testimony has valued in excess of $500 million – Jackson reportedly owed Bank of America Corp. more than $250 million by 2000. According to court documents, however, BofA dissociated itself from Jackson last May by selling $272.5 million of the singer's debt to New York private equity firm Fortress Investment Group LLC.

Of the amount taken on by Fortress, $200 million was said to have been collateralized by Sony/ATV. Jackson's solely owned catalog, MiJac Music Publishing Co., and a lien on his Neverland ranch in the Santa Ynez Valley secured the remainder.

On Dec. 20, Jackson's Sony/ATV-backed loan came due. The deadline gave way to the short-term extension, ultimately, after erroneous speculation Fortress would use a Jackson default to force the singer to sell his Sony/ATV stake to Sony.

In exchange for the extension, Fortress is receiving extension fees and a default interest rate. But the "buying of time," a source said, will prove well worth it.

"They're putting together a long-term plan," he explained, "for paying down some debt and coming up with a lifestyle the guy can actually afford." Another source close to the case added, "Michael's now aware it would be financial suicide for him to lose the catalog by not getting a deal done."

On a parallel track, but to the same end, Jackson has also obtained new representation in an action against him by Prescient Acquisition Group Inc. That suit, filed July 11, seeks $48 million for advisory services allegedly undertaken on behalf of Jackson not only to pay off his bank debt but to buy out Sony from their mutually owned catalog.

After being retained in November 2004, the suit charges, "Prescient in fact secured a commitment for a total of $537.5 million in financing to enable Mr. Jackson to pay off the Bank of America debt and exercise his 'put option' to purchase the 50% interest in the entity known as Sony/ATV that he does not currently own." For its efforts, the suit continues, Prescient has a documented right to a fee of 9% of "the principal amount funded or committed."

Sources close to Sony insisted there's no way it's selling its half of Sony/ATV. However, according to the Prescient suit, a trust set up by Jackson has "an option to purchase the remaining 50% interest in that Beatles library from its partner, Sony/ATV, for $200 million."

The suit has been repeatedly delayed in court, most recently by Latham & Watkins LLP's withdrawing in November as counsel for Jackson. But it promises to begin anew now that William B. Wachtel of Wachtel & Masyr LLP has started representing the defendant.

One source noted that Wachtel and lead Prescient attorney Steven Altman are familiar with the case's legal terrain, having both worked on "Bowie bonds" back in the 1990s. "They know this stuff isn't brain surgery," he said, "so I'm guessing they'll be able to work together and get a deal done."

Source: http://www.thedeal.com/NASApp/cs/Conten ... ticlePromo


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