Former Vice President and global warming crusader Al Gore stands to make close to $50 million when the TV channel he co-founded goes public with an Initial Public Offering.
Current TV, which debuted in August 2005, has been billed as “television for the Internet generation" of tech-savvy 18-to-34-year-olds, and allows viewers to contribute much of its content.
But it currently is available in only about 19 million U.S. homes, and has lost $31.5 million over the last three years, Ron Grover discloses in BusinessWeek.
Current Media, Current TV’s parent company, hopes to raise $100 million in a public offering it filed on Jan. 28. Some of the money raised will go to lenders, who include a few major Democratic Party fundraisers.
“Something about this deal just doesn’t sit right with me,” Grover observes.
He notes that Gore and co-founder Joel Hyatt not only will take “piles of cash,” but they also collect “hefty salaries for a company that hasn’t shown a profit in three years — taking down $491,677 apiece last year in cash.”
Gore and Hyatt also collected $550,000 bonuses for, in Gore’s case, helping get the company new affiliate agreements and putting together a management team. The two currently receive $600,000 a year in salary and can collect additional bonuses.
“What really sticks out to me,” Grover writes, is that Gore and Hyatt, “who jumpstarted the company with a broken-down Newsworld International channel they bought for $70.9 million, will have the kind of hammer-lock control over the company decried by shareholder rights activists and many of the same unions that supported Gore for years.”
Gore and Hyatt will control all of the company’s B shares, which give them 10 votes for every vote of a common shareholder with a Class A share, according to the filing.
The company hasn’t yet set a price per share for its IPO, but Grover cites one estimate of between $13 and $15 per share, making Gore’s 3.7 million shares worth more than $48 million.
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