By Kevin Kelley
Shareholders of American Greetings approved a deal Aug. 7 allowing the Weiss family, members of which lead the company, and other investors to acquire the publicly traded company. The completion of the acquisition was finalized Aug. 9, according to a company press release.
The shareholders accepted a price of $19 per share. The deal values the company at $606 million. Initially, the Weiss family proposed $17.18 per share.
The approval of the deal taking the company private removes a hurdle that had delayed a planned move of the company’s headquarters to Crocker Park in Westlake. The company is currently headquartered in Brooklyn.
In November, American Greetings announced that is was temporarily halting plans to move to Westlake in light of the complexity of the bid to take the company private. Company executives never canceled plans for the move and said they ultimately intended to go forward with the relocation of their headquarters.
Mayor Dennis Clough called the shareholder approval of the privatization bid “great news.” However, he told West Life he has not heard anything further from the company about moving forward on the move of its headquarters. Clough nonetheless said he believed things were still moving in a positive direction in regard to the headquarters move.
An American Greetings spokesperson did not respond by press time to phone and e-mail inquiries from West Life regarding the next steps in the planned move.
Preliminary development plans for the American Greetings move and the related expansion of Crocker Park had been approved when the delay was initiated last fall. Exact terms on financial obligations the city would make related to the move were still to be finalized.
As an incentive to draw the company to Westlake, the city agreed, in principle, to fund roughly $54 million in public improvements in and near Crocker Park. These include the construction of three parking garages, work on Crocker Road at an intersection at the company’s headquarters and site work on the southern expansion of Crocker Park. The majority of the money for the public improvements would come from Westlake’s issuance of tax increment financing bonds, which generate payments in lieu of taxes from American Greetings.
While American Greetings delayed its planned headquarters move, a plan to move the American Greetings Federal Credit Union to Westlake is proceeding. Planning and zoning details related to the credit union’s move to a vacant office building at the corner of Detroit and Mendelssohn roads were approved by the city’s Planning Commission and City Council over the summer.