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Rating:Fido Shares Bought Back ... But By and From Whom? Not Rated 2.9 Email Routing List Email & Route  Print Print
Thursday, June 28, 2007

Fido Shares Bought Back ... But By and From Whom?

Reported by Neil Anderson, Managing Editor

The family that owns Fidelity appears to be consolidating its control, and they might even get tax benefits ... but what's not being said may the most interesting part of it all. The Boston Globe's Christopher Rowland and Ross Kerber report that private shareholders in the Boston Behemoth voted Friday to trade stock for cash and debt notes, but their article leaves the exact "who's" of the exchange, not saying which "private shareholders" sold back their shares and which Johnson family member (or members) bought those shares back. Perhaps finding those details would shed light on the big "why" surrounding the buyback.

A Fidelity spokeswoman called the move "a way to simplify the company's capital structure" but declined to discuss details, such as the number of private shareholders remaining or the identity of those involved in the exchange. The article lists Fidelity's 2006 profits as $1.2 billion, out of $12.8 billion in revenue.

Anonymous ex-employees also told the Globe reporters that the move is part of a Fidelity effort to reduce its private shareholder count to under 100 to earn "S corporation" tax status (which could eventually allow Fidelity's profits to be taxed only once, at the individual level).

While the firm could realize tax benefits from such a consolidation, one consultant told the Globe reporters that the change could negatively impact Fidelity's incentive system for top executives.

"A stake in the business is an important element," said Geoff Bobroff, president of Bobroff Consulting.

In the meantime, watching where the shares go may hold the answers. 

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