This morning, FTI Consulting quietly published a press release confirming speculation that the firm was weighing a move to acquire several units of fellow public company and consultancy LECG. The release reveals precious little regarding the specifics of any deal, though it is clear that FTI is not pursuing "an acquisition of the entire firm." Instead, the transfer of "several practice areas" from LECG to FTI is a more likely scenario. Both companies refer to a tentative agreement as simply a "non-binding indication of interest."
LECG also published its own press release, which acknowledges that the pending sale is part of a plan to seek "strategic alternatives" moving forward. Any move appears to be the result of LECG's financial woes; the firm's release recognizes almost $30 million in credit debt that, without a quick cash injection, the firm will be unable to repay by a March 31 deadline.
A deeper investigation reveals that LECG borrowed roughly $35 million from the Bank of Montreal midway through 2010. Earlier this month, the firm took preliminary steps to suggest that it would not be able to repay the bank, even announcing that an undisclosed bidder intended to buy out LECG and settle the firm's debt. Whether or not FTI Consulting was this undisclosed bidder is unknown, though it would represent a further setback to LECG if FTI were to withdraw its interest in a full acquisition in favor of a smaller, unit-based transfer. Still, the company asserts, "LECG believes this alternative, whether with the identified party or one or more other parties, may be the most viable path for the Company to raise capital to address current liquidity concerns."
Any bidder seeking to acquire LECG wholesale would have to meet the firm's valuation of more than $100 million. In case the deal with FTI falls through, LECG "is also analyzing other restructuring possibilities." "If the Company is not able to enter into a binding acquisition agreement to sell certain of its practice groups for sufficient funds," said the LECG press release, "it will need to consider other restructuring and debt resolution alternatives, including a possible liquidation."
Have we seen the end of LECG as we know it? It certainly looks that way. Public companies don't throw around the phrase "possible liquidation" for the hell of it. Stay tuned.
For more information:
FTI Consulting Confirms Discussions to Acquire Certain Operations of LECG Corporation
LECG Provides an Update on Strategic Alternatives
LECG discusses debt
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