Riley Investment Gets Active With MAIR (MAIR) Citing Concerns The Fair Value of Mesaba Is Not Being Received
In a 13D filing on MAIR Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: MAIR), 5.3% holder Riley Investment noted they changed their filing status from 13G to 13D saying they have become concerned that the company is not receiving fair value for its subsidiary Mesaba Airlines, in connection with their negotiations with Northwest Airlines (OTC: NWACQ) with respect to Mesaba’s bankruptcy claim and/or acquisition. The firm said 4.56% holder Lloyd Miller and 1.8% holder Palmyra Capital share their concerns.
Riley believes that the interests of the independent shareholders should be represented in the negotiation and approval of any such transaction. The firm said Northwest, MAIR’s largest shareholder with approximately 28% of the outstanding shares, has a clear conflict of interest in the negotiation process.
Riley said to ensure shareholders are treated fairly, any deal between Northwest and the company or its subsidiary should be approved by a majority of the company’s disinterested shareholders.
Riley also noted the three vacancies on the board and wants to enter discussions with the company to fill the spots with their representatives.
A Copy of the Letter:Dear Gentleman:
Riley Investment Management holds approximately 5.2% of the outstanding shares of MAIR Holdings. As we have previously discussed, we are aware of acquisition discussions between Northwest Airlines and Mesaba Airlines, a wholly owned subsidiary of MAIR, and have noted Northwest’s most recent amended Schedule 13-D. We believe the $145 million claim amount proposed by Northwest is grossly inadequate. We believe that Lloyd Miller, who holds approximately 4.56% of the MAIR stock, Palmyra Capital Advisors which holds approximately 1.8% along with several other shareholders, share our concerns.
We believe that for meaningful discussions on claim values or acquisition values to occur between Northwest Airlines and Mesaba, it is necessary that MAIR’s independent shareholders participate. Northwest, MAIR’s largest shareholder with approximately 28% of the outstanding shares (not 39.5% as claimed in Northwest’s 13-D filing), has a clear conflict of interest in the negotiation process and the current MAIR directors may have long-standing relationships with Northwest due to its stake in the Company. To assure fairness in both substance and procedure, it is imperative that the interests of other significant shareholders are actively involved in the negotiation and approval of any transaction. The board cannot assume that Northwest will negotiate for the company or its shareholders’ best interests. Nor can it be assumed that, if the company’s shareholders are asked to approve any transaction with Northwest, Northwest, as a MAIR shareholder, will vote its shares in the best interest of the company or the company’s disinterested shareholders. Shareholders of MAIR should remember that Doug Steenland, president of Northwest Airlines, appears to have ignored similar conflict of interest issues when he served on the board of MAIR during the negotiation of Mesaba’s current ASA and also oversaw MAIR’s $30 million investment into Mesaba. Both the ASA and $30 million investment were completed less than three weeks prior to Northwest Airlines filing for bankruptcy and under Mr. Steenland’s watch as a MAIR board member.
To ensure the fair treatment of the company’s shareholders, any deal between Northwest and the company or its subsidiary should be approved by a majority of the company’s disinterested shareholders. We hope you concur. We are offering to play a constructive role in this process in the effort to receive fair value for our ownership of Mesaba. Because we represent a significant percentage of MAIR’s outstanding stock not held by Northwest and are not conflicted with regard to the negotiations with Northwest, we believe our participation would improve the negotiating process. We note there are currently three vacancies on the board and wish to enter into immediate discussions regarding placing our representatives on the board.Given the announcement by Northwest of its plans, and the need for a timely response, we would be interested in meeting with you soon to discuss our views. If you prefer, we will seek to include other significant holders in such a meeting.
If our concerns are not addressed, we reserve our rights to protect our interests and those of other holders by all reasonable methods, including intervention in the Mesaba or Northwest bankruptcy proceedings, or seeking to convene a shareholder meeting which would amend the MAIR bylaws to require approval by holders not affiliated with Northwest, and possibly also seek to enlarge the MAIR board in a manner that would let shareholders fill the new seats created by the expansion.
We hope that we can resolve these concerns amicably in the interest of all shareholders.Very truly yours,
Principal, Riley Investment Management LLC