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Focus Media - New Bronte Allegations - Stonking short

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- Tom Winnifrith

China-based Focus Media Holding Ltd. (FMCN) is still the subject of a bid led by its CEO Jason Jiang and backed by big name private equity firms, including Carlyle. Some shareholders have claimed that the $27 a share bid is too low. But the offer is subject to due diligence. This company has been the subject of numerous claims about its accounts not being quite up to scratch in the past, and if the bidders walk, the shares will almost certainly collapse. I advised shorting the stock and detailed past claims on Aug. 30, with the stock at $24.51 on the basis that the downside was $2.49, but the upside could easily be $14.51.

In light of a series of allegations made by the Bronte Capital Blog within the past few hours, I would suggest that this bid is less and less likely to go through. The allegations may well be dismissed by Carlyle, but I would not bet on it. They certainly raise issues. Thus, at $24 the case for staying short has just become quite stronger.

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