Gaylord Entertainment has paid $185 million for almost half of the shares owned by billionaire Robert Rowling and launched an offering to help him dispose of his remaining 5.6 million shares.
The buyback and subsequent sale clears the way for Gaylord to sell its hotels brand and management rights and convert to a real estate investment trust, moves Rowling's TRT Holdings had vocally opposed. As part of the repurchase, TRT officials have promised to vote their remaining shares in favor of the $210 million Marriott sale and agreed not to buy new Gaylord shares, debt or other assets for the next three years.
Gaylord (Ticker: GET) paid $37 a share for 5 million of TRT's shares, which equates to a 1.4 percent discount to Gaylord's Monday closing price. The company funded the deal through its $925 million credit line.
Rowling's pending exit comes four years and a few weeks after he quickly built a 10 percent stake in Gaylord and began to pressure Chairman and CEO Colin Reed for board representation and a big say in the company's affairs. That led to a 2009 agreement that gave TRT two seats at the directors' table but also set up a corporate back-and-forth that included more big share purchases, board moves and a public spat this year after the Marriott-REIT plan was announced.