05.29.14

Mutually assured destruction…

Posted in Financials, LightSquared, Operators, Regulatory, Spectrum at 10:34 am by timfarrar

Yesterday, Harbinger’s new lawyers at Cooper & Kirk, filed an ex parte with the FCC, documenting a meeting last Friday with FCC staff, plus two representatives of the DoJ (who would presumably defend the FCC in the event of a lawsuit), including Alicia Simmons who signed the devastating Jan 17 filing in LightSquared’s bankruptcy case. The FCC personnel included Associate General Counsel Jennifer Tatel and the letter also identified Hillary Burchuk as an FCC staffer, although she is in fact apparently a DoJ trial attorney. Interestingly, Cooper & Kirk has never filed an ex parte with the FCC in the past, and Harbinger has previously been represented at the FCC for many years by its regulatory law firm, Goldberg, Godles, Wiener and Wright.

It seems pretty clear that the purpose of the meeting was to threaten to sue the FCC, not least because Cooper & Kirk’s own website boasts that according to Legal Times, it is “The top choice for plaintiffs who want to sue the federal government.” This may be Falcone’s last effort to avoid being excluded from the resolution of LightSquared’s bankruptcy case, where (as I concluded) Judge Chapman’s decision to reject the LightSquared bankruptcy plan has made it far more difficult for Harbinger to maintain a stake in the reorganized company.

If Harbinger is excluded from the reorganization, then it would not benefit financially from the increase in spectrum value resulting from a future FCC approval (or indeed any proceeds from the litigation against the GPS industry). As a result, if that happens Harbinger is threatening to sue on its own account, because litigation would likely block any possibility of progress at the FCC, and Harbinger would not have any incentive to drop that litigation as part of a settlement which resulted in an FCC approval. Thus Falcone is basically offering the threat of mutually assured destruction to persuade the other LightSquared debtholders to give him a share of the reorganized company, exactly as his earlier emails suggested: “if I don’t like the result, maybe I’ll just sue the FCC and tie this up for 10 years.”

On Tuesday the LightSquared stakeholders were ordered to mediation, as expected, although reportedly some progress had been made on a “global restructuring” deal. That phrasing would suggest the aim is to keep the 1670-75MHz spectrum together with the L-band MSS spectrum, rather than auctioning the two pieces of spectrum separately, perhaps with the holders of the 1670-75MHz secured debt being paid off via a new injection of capital. If that deal comes to fruition it would suggest that the target would still be to gain access to the NOAA 1675-1680MHz spectrum, in which case it might also make sense to keep Ergen in the capital structure (in order to avoid the threat that DISH or EchoStar might bid against LightSquared in an auction). But its harder to see what bone might be thrown to Falcone to prevent Harbinger from filing suit against the FCC.

1 Comment »

  1. TMF Associates MSS blog » Playing in the mud… said,

    July 2, 2014 at 10:36 am

    [...] Remember that Cerberus’s involvement was proposed by Fortress but was unacceptable to Harbinger back in January, when “Mr. Falcone exercised those veto rights in the weeks after the January 23 meeting when he objected to Fortress’ suggestion that Tom Donahue of Cerberus join LightSquared’s board.” (see ΒΆ32 of SPSO’s proposed Findings of Fact). This appears to be further confirmation that Harbinger is being forced out of the new proposed capital structure for LightSquared, as I indicated earlier this month and that’s why Phil Falcone is currently threatening to sue the FCC. [...]

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