By Ray Paulick

A major institutional investor in MI Developments, the Frank Stronach-controlled real estate company that has kept Stronach's failing racetrack entity Magna Entertainment afloat with bridge loans, has threatened legal action against the MI Developments board of directors, alleging they have “flagrantly breached their fiduciary duties to shareholders.”

Richard Fried, a managing member of the San Francisco-based Farallon Capital Management that owns 8.5% of the Class A shares in MI Developments, protested the board's most recent extension and expansion of a now $125-million bridge loan and delay of a due date of a separate $100 million loan payment. Fried wrote that Magna Entertainment “has been, is, and will remain a financial sinkhole. Continuing to finance it offers no conceivable benefit to MID's shareholders.”

“There is no possible justification for the Board to approve loans to a near bankrupt horseracing concern, especially one that is hopelessly entangled with irrational, non-economic, and conflicted parties and has a track record of massive value destruction,” Fried wrote. The letter was filed with the Securities Exchange Commission on Friday, the same day that technology entrepreneur and Thoroughbred owner and breeder Halsey Minor went public with an offer to buy out MI Developments' loans to Magna Entertainment.

The letter said Farallon concludes that “the (MI Developments) Board is pursuing a value-destroying investment instead of a relatively safe and accretive investment because the Board is ignoring common shareholders' interests and is only interested in pleasing Frank Stronach, even if his desires conflict with the best interests of MID's shareholders.”

Farallon also went on record as opposing what it called “an ill-conceived transaction” that would have MI Developments buying out Magna Entertainment, whose stock has lost more than 95% of its equity value. MI Developments already owns a controlling interest in Magna Entertainment, which operates Santa Anita Park (host of the Breeders' Cup world championships in 2008 and 2009), Gulfstream Park, Lone Star Park, the Maryland Jockey Club tracks Pimlico and Laurel, and Golden Gate Fields.

“We believe the Board's duties require it to end MID's support of MEC and focus urgently with management on developing a coherent and fair reorganization plan. You must tell Mr. Stronach that his time for self-serving maneuvers is over. It is time for you to meet your fiduciary duties as directors. If you do not, Farallon will consider all legal tools available to it as a shareholder.”

Magna successfully defended a previous lawsuit by Greenlight Financial alleging that Greenlight and other investors were oppressed by Stronach and the MI Developments board.

Click here for the complete text of the Farallon Capital Management letter.

Copyright © 2008, The Paulick Report

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