Value Line's Ex-Chief Makes a Grab for $20M
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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Value Line's Ex-Chief Makes a Grab for $20M

It looks like Value Line Inc.'s [see profile] controlling shareholder, former CEO Jean Bernhard Buttner, is in the public eye again. This time Buttner, dubbed "Mean Jean" by Crain's, is looking to pilfer about half of her company's remaining cash.

Value Line's publisher reportedly said late Friday that the company is shelling out a special dividend of $2 a share on Nov. 12 instead of its regular quarterly dividend of 20 cents per share to its shareholders. The payout, which amounts to $20 million, or nearly half of the company's $43 million in cash on hand, will result in some $17.3 million lining Buttner's coffers (she controls 86.5% of Value Line's stock).

Earlier this year, Buttner had Value Line issue a special dividend of $3 a share, which netted her a cool $26 million but dwindled the amount of cash at the company down to some $40 million. Several directors who opposed the payout were booted and their replacements included the chief of police in Westport, Connecticut, where Buttner lives.

In 2004, Buttner reportedly had Value Line issue a $175 million special dividend and $149 million in 1997 so she could buy out her brother's stake in the business.

Buttner reportedly stepped aside last year after the Securities and Exchange Commission barred her from the brokerage business for allegedly overcharging customers for mutual fund trades for 20 years. Value Line agreed to pay $45 million in penalties.

However, she didn't wander too far from the reservation, appointing her long-time lawyer, Howard Brecher, as her replacement.

Value Line's mutual fund business has also been the object of a proposed takeover by Guggenheim Partners and Finra and NYSE regulatory director Richard Pechter. Both proposals were ultimately rebuffed by the company.

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