, the acquisitive real estate investment trust run by Steve Roth, disclosed in a
Securities and Exchange Commission
filing Tuesday that it controls 1.2% of
Vornado said in its quarterly filing that it owns outright 858,000 McDonald's common shares and controls another 14,565,000 through privately negotiated options transactions that behave like a margin loan. The cost basis on the shares owned outright is $29.54 a share, or $25.3 million. The options have an initial weighted strike price of $32.66 a share, or $475.7 million.
The transaction is similar to the position Vornado bought in shares of Sears Roebuck just before the company was acquired by Ed Lampert's Kmart in November 2004. In both cases, Roth controlled stakes in companies where Wall Street perceived latent value in a sprawling real estate portfolio.
While disclosure of the Sears stake led to a 23% jump in the company's stock on Nov. 5, 2004, Tuesday's filing was having a less-pronounced impact. In recent premarket trading, McDonald's was up $1.10, or 3.5%, to $32.70. The muted reaction probably reflects statements made Monday by McDonald's CEO Jim Skinner that the company is not contemplating any radical restructuring to unlock its real-estate value.
While shareholders including activist hedge fund Pershing Square Capital, a 4.9% owner, have urged McDonald's to consider spinning off its restaurant holdings to franchisees and setting up a REIT of its own, Skinner said Monday that "neither would be in the best interests of our system or our shareholders."
Instead, Skinner said, the company would stick to a blueprint that focuses on improving customers' experiences at McDonald's and enhancing collaboration among owner-operators, suppliers and the company.
"Our greatest strength is, and always will be, our system -- our three-legged stool," Skinner said, referring to the company, its franchisees and its suppliers. "It is a competitive advantage no one can match. And, when we work together, we succeed."