(Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, MA) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Aug. 11--Former Market Basket CEO Arthur T. Demoulas Sunday defended his offer to buy half of the company from his cousin's family, saying "onerous terms" included in the other side's counter-proposals are the biggest stumbling block, according to a statement released by his spokeswoman.
Demoulas' statement said he did not want the deal to be "negotiated in the press," but insisted he had to respond to "false information" released by company board members and his cousin's family over the weekend. And for the first time, he revealed details about the offer he made to cousin Arthur S. Demoulas and his family to purchase 50.5 percent of Demoulas Super Markets, the parent of the 71-store Market Basket supermarket chain.
Arthur S. and his family broke their silence Saturday night with a statement saying their conditions were reasonable and criticizing Arthur T.'s "conduct to date," including a statement Friday in which he responded to an accusation from the board of directors that he was not acknowledging their counter-offers.
Despite the harsher tone since Friday, all the statements have left open the door for a deal for Arthur S. and his family to sell their shares to Arthur T.
"Arthur T. Demoulas reaffirms his desire and good faith for completing the purchase of the 50.5 percent of DSM," the spokeswoman said. "Those terms include an offer at their asking price, at a valuation determined pre-crisis. Thus far, his offers have been rejected, not on the basis of price, but with counter-proposals that have been laden with onerous terms that are far beyond comparable transactions."
He said any future statements from either side should only announce a deal that includes returning him to control of the company. "He further hopes that the next time either side is communicating in the press, it is to announce that his bid has been accepted and that he and his whole team are going in to stabilize the company," his spokeswoman said.
Arthur S. and his family said in their statement Saturday that they offered to sell their shares and offered financing if Arthur T. needed cash to close, financing that they said required collateral, interest and a payment schedule. They did not indicate that agreement over price or valuation of the company was an issue.
But they so far have refused to allow Arthur T. to run the company while the deal is finalized, instead offering to bring him back in some lesser role to assist with management. "Our proposal would permit Arthur T. Demoulas to return to work immediately to work collaboratively to stabilize the business on terms proposed by the independent directors of the Market Basket Board if the class B shareholders would commit to buy our interests," Arthur S.'s family said in their statement. "Our proposal, made last week and reiterated throughout this week, has not been accepted."
Arthur S.'s family owns the class A shares, and Arthur T.'s side owns the class B shares. All the shares are owned by members of the Demoulas family.
Three members of the board of directors, Keith O. Cowan, Eric Gebaide and Ronald G. Weiner, late Friday afternoon said in a statement they offered Arthur T. "a detailed agreement that would allow him and his entire former management team, including all individuals who resigned or were dismissed, to assist the Company's return to normal business operations and people to get back to their jobs and lives."
But that agreement specifically ruled out Arthur T. returning as CEO in the meantime.
Arthur T. later Friday rejected that proposal, calling it "disingenuous" and saying it was an attempt to bring him in him to stabilize the company while it is sold to an outside bidder.
The board members Saturday responded with a curt statement accusing Arthur T. of holding "everyone hostage to gain a negotiation advantage. Let's end the hostage-taking and get together to work at finding common ground. We are ready (to) meet, anytime, anywhere."
Arthur T. did not respond to that statement Saturday.
But Arthur S.'s family Saturday night said Arthur T.'s behavior was crippling a deal.
"Arthur T. Demoulas' conduct to date, including his most recent public statement, continues to undermine Market Basket, and the class B shareholders have not indicated a willingness to engage in good faith discussions for a sale," they said. "The class B shareholders have given us no choice at this time but to consider all available options to sell our equity in order to protect the interests of all Market Basket stakeholders."
However, they said they are still willing "to sell our interests in Market Basket for the price originally proposed by Arthur T. Demoulas."
The board of directors, controlled by Arthur S.'s side of the family, on June 23 fired Arthur T. as CEO. Since mid-July, employees have protested his ouster while warehouse workers and drivers have walked off the job, leaving many shelves empty as customers and store employees boycott.
Last week, thousands of part-time workers lost all their hours due to a sharp drop in sales.
The board of directors has said it is seriously considering Arthur T.'s offers, among others.
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