Oaktree Capital Becoming More Activist Post-IPO?

Oaktree Capital Becoming More Activist Post-IPO?

Howard Marks’ Oaktree Capital Group LLC (NYSE:OAK) is showing investment activism after its Initial Public Offering.

The value based asset manager, together with JPMorgan Chase & Co. (NYSE:JPM) and Angelo, Gordon & Co., will take over the ownership of Tribune Co., the second largest newspaper publisher in the United States, after gaining court approval to walk out from bankruptcy. The three investors will appoint the seven members of Tribune’s Board.

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Oaktree Capital also  offered purchase JAKKS Pacific Inc. (Nasdaq:JAKK) for $ 20 per share last June. Both companies discussed the possibility of an Oaktree take over of the toy manufacturer, however the negotiations failed. According to Bloomberg’s report, the value oriented asset manager rejected the terms asked by JAKKS.  Oaktree said that it is still open for future negotiations with the toy maker.

Last April, Reuters cited an underwriter’s observation that the company sold fewer shares than expected during its IPO. The company sold 8.84 million shares at $43 per share, lower than its 11.3 million shares sales target. Oaktree is managing $75 billion assets. After the IPO, Oaktree’s fiscal value is approximately $6.5 billion.

Meanwhile, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Kevin Carey, in Wilmington, Delaware, overruled the bankruptcy plans proposed by Tribune’s creditors. According to Judge Carey, he will approve the fourth amended reorganization plan once the company submits some of its revisions. Carey commented that the confirmation process for Tribune’s bankruptcy was “lengthy and highly contested.”

Eddy Hartenstein, Chief Executive Officer of Tribune sent an e-mail statement to Tribune employees reminding them that the company will face exciting challenges ahead. He also expressed confidence that company’s mix of media assets, and its businesses are profitable, and it will continue to make progress and execute its digital and mobile strategies. He also advised the employees to ignore speculations regarding the future of the company.

The court’s approval to Tribune’s reorganization allows the company to ask the Federal Communications Commission to approve the transfer of its broadcast licenses to its new owners. Harstenstein expects a speedy approval from the FCC.

Based on the reorganization plan, Tribune’s new owners, Oaktree Capital, JPMorgan Chase and Angelo, Gordon & Co., provided $8.2 billion to fund its 2007 buyout.  Court documents also show that the company owes $13 billion to other creditors. Its current value is $7 billion.