Investors appeared to be mostly unfazed by a much anticipated public conference call by senior management of Prison Realty Trust, Inc. (PZN) this morning. Shares of Prison Realty, the nation’s largest private owner of prisons, were up $0.06 to $5.06 in afternoon trading.
Thomas W. Beasley, interim chairman of the beleaguered real estate investment trust, reiterated details of the restructuring package last month. The restructuring encompasses the resignation of Doc Crants as chief executive, the elimination of the company’s large dividend, conversion from REIT status to that of a regular “C” corporation and the infusion of as much as $350 million from outside investors. The final point could dilute current shareholders by as much as 39%.
Beasley and Joe Russell, who chairs the company’s independent committee, provided answers to several of what they described as the most-asked questions. One sore point with investors that Beasley and Russell addressed is why owners of “OpCo,” the management company majority-owned by Corrections Corporation of America insiders and employees, would be paid back their investment in full while Prison Realty is losing money.
”Although OpCo is losing money,” Beasley said, “OpCo owns substantially all of the contracts with our key state, federal and local customers.” In addition to considering how OpCo’s health affects Prison Realty, the merger of CCA into Prison Realty was a condition set by the investment group, he said.
While some outside investors in OpCo will be redeemed at the price they paid last year for their CCA common stock, CCA’s management and employees will receive only 40% of the value for their shares in the form of Prison Realty shares. Once restructured, the company’s name will return to Corrections Corporation of America.
Only a handful of listeners to the conference call were permitted to ask questions. One, with Bank of America Securities, asked about the company’s ability to ink deals in the future with governmental bodies once Doc Crants is gone. Crants had personally spearheaded that effort in recent years.
”That was the role I had in the company for 10 years,” assured Beasley, who was chairman and CEO of the company from its founding in 1983 until taking a reduced role in 1994.
”I understand this industry. I understand this company,” he said. “I was the guy who had the governmental relationships. What I did as chairman and CEO was I marketed the beds.”