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MSG denies hiring anti-activist investor PR firm

Venue and sports team owner Madison Square Garden Company has rebuked reports it is gearing up for a battle with shareholders by hiring advisory firm Teneo

By Jon Chapple on 02 Nov 2017

Madison Square Garden, New York, Jake Cunningham, MSG Company, Teneo Holdings

MSG's flagship NY venue, Madison Square Garden

image © Jake Cunningham

Madison Square Garden Company (MSG) has rebuffed reports it has hired a communications firm with a record of defending public companies against activist shareholders, amid suggestions by investors the company is underperforming financially.

The New York Post reported on Tuesday that MSG – whose venue portfolio includes Madison Square Garden (21,000-cap.) and Radio City Music Hall (6,015-cap.) in New York and the Forum (17,500-cap.) in Los Angeles – had enlisted the services of Teneo Holdings, whose most notable recent client is casino operator Caesars Entertainment, which faced a series of investor lawsuits before being given the go-ahead to emerge from bankruptcy in January.

The paper quoted a source saying Teneo’s supposed hiring was “absolutely about defence”, after prominent investor Samantha Greenberg told a hedge fund industry conference controlling shareholder James Dolan should consider spinning off MSG’s sports teams to boost the company’s share price and deliver more value to shareholders.

“Teneo was not hired to provide, and is not providing, services related to any shareholder matter”

However, in a statement issued yesterday afternoon MSG clarified that “Teneo was not hired to provide, and is not providing, services related to any shareholder matter”.

“MSG announced in mid-July that its long-time chief communications officer [Barry Watkins] was transitioning to a new role as senior adviser,” the statement continues. “Following this announcement, MSG hired Teneo to provide general communications and public relations support. The company is conducting a search for a replacement of its CCO.”

MSG’s Q4 2017 financial results showed a 40% increased in turnover to US$305.6m, although losses also widened, doubling to $92.5m.


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