Mario Gabelli on the New York Mets, and M&A

Mario Gabelli on the New York Mets, and M&A
Photo of Mario Gabelli via Insider Monkey (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Mario Gabelli on the New York Mets, and M&A

“A company like Cablevision could use a baseball package as part of their program”, say Mario Gabelli, GAMCO Investors CEO & CIO, discussing baseball’s New York Mets, and his 2012 outlook on mergers.

mets and i guess you get to take pictures with mr. met but if infact they’re not able to close this $200 million limitedpartnership interest financing in terms of paying back themoney and this construction, there’s got to be enough to findthree more buyers of the partnership interests. gary, i don’t know what’s in the mix but the crowned jewel is the broadcast rights obviously and a company like cablevision could use a baseball package as part of their program. they’ve got hockey, basketball, and you know, the ideal world would have been the yankees but that was spun off already. the ownership group is not going to, if cablevision came in, said we’ll take theremaining $60 million, three limited partnership interests, buy them and hopefully sit down at the table and get some sort of arrangement for broadcasting some of the — gary the russians have to come, the guy that bought the basketball team moving into brooklyn should buy the mets. why are they having a hardtime selling the $20 million vanity limited partnership interests?i’m not a broker, i’m not selling it. i have no idea. why would you want to buy it? when the deal collapsed and i think it was almost six months ago they thought they could go out and sell these. in fact it’s been more of an inside deal. you’ve got your broadcast partners buying, you’ve got the two owners buying.i’ve never understood. it’s a sad situation and — buy a minority interest where you’re not an owner, just giving them money. not on attractive terms. the mets can only do better. better on the field? better on the field and better financially. look at the dynamics that occurred the second half of last year. you got to go back to basics. you have tribal passion in dealing with sports. i grew up in the bronx, you know, kind of a die-hard yankee fan, and so if you are a mets fan, how do you get a piece of that? look what green bay is able to do. they sell you a piece of paper with nothing as wallpaper which is fabulous. that doesn’t cost $20 million. that may be the next, if they can’t close this transaction, maybe they go out and sell $1,000 limited partnership interests, if they could do something with some public spot. the same situation. gary would you buy a psl atwhatever the name of the stadium is out there, citi field? i have a psl for the jets. that’s a decent team to watch although it’s been a frustrating time there as well. dr. love, let’s talk about some of the things you promised. i didn’t promise anything. yes you did.i’ll promise you something off camera but that we can’t talk about. the top of the show you talked about the hidden gemspotentially out there, potential breakups down the road. one looks at a question mark as to how to surface values. if you’re the ceo, you grow basically the underlying businesses. if it’s not appreciated by the market, what do you do? do you do spin-offs? for example, one of our huntsman conference call the other day spent 10, 15 minutes saying wall street does not appreciate the underlying values of my company. therefore, i’m going to do something. earlier today we had pepsi-cola on bringing in a former individual that worked at the company, and they put him in charge of the frito-lay business. the snack business on a global basis is a terrific business. irene rosenfelt is splitting up the business. you’d like to see the same sort of thing? no, no, no, no, no. i’m saying if i own pepsi at $63, i either am going to, indra, a young person at 56, cancontinue to run the business, reallocate resources, focus on the domestic beverage business but if it doesn’t work and she can’t get started the fallback position, i’ve got two ceos who can run the separate companies. pepsi has a history of spin-offs.they’ve done it before. she’s said many times she want to run the business, looked at the business and makes sense to keep it under the umbrella. how does the mind-set change? it doesn’t have to. they’re refocusing the advertising budget, putting more than $600 million into brands and driving that and gaining share. if that works you have a stock that’s 20 points higher anyway. so basically you could run the businesses internally as a separate company and try to get some of those — they’re doing that now. it hasn’t worked to this point. they had, they made a large acquisition in russia, got themselves positioned in india, going into the non-u.s. markets and in the united states. the red bulls and the monsters of the world have taken a piece of the beverage market which they’re not as big in. they have wonderful brands and if she does that you don’t need to have a spin-off. if it doesn’t work and the stock sells 63, the fallback position is, she declares victory, okay we have two great businesses. split apart. the board has seen that before in the history of pepsi-cola. what was another one youmentioned? another way to make money is to buy into minority ownership of companies, but i was thinking what you were asking me, which is what else out there is a loaded laggard for example in buffalo, new york, natural fuel and gas. 100 years ago they were the gas company in buffalo, like brooklyn union and gas in new york or whatever it’s called today. they have about 750,000 customers, still in that business but they bought 1 million acres of land in the marc marcellus area and acreage in utica, below marcellus vertically down and they have a mid stream business and that mid stream business pipelines thatconnect the gas and connects them to the major areas, thatbusiness could be monetized at some point by having that create an mop and putting a higher cap rate on the company.the stock is about $50 a share. they missed a window to partnerup with someone. today for example chevron is in the paper saying hey we bought atlas and want to do more in frac and gain the knowledge of this area and they’re going to make those investments. how do you move the gas to the user? for disclosure purposes — i own all of them. we’re buying pepsi today. i was at the meeting that indra had at yankee stadium, i was at the one in january or february and i think she’s got — just on the national fuel you mentioned the mlp do you know if they are actively — gary i say what would gary do if he were running the company. what’s so obvious when the stock is down 25%, because they were not willing to seize not willing to seize anopportunity, carpe diem, all of the companies knocking on adoor. we as a country know we have to do natural gas and oil.mario will be with us for the rest of the show.

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