"What's that mean?"
"It means, summons in trouble!"
-- Rocky And Bullwinkle
Last business day of the year, and what do we get? Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool has observed another salvo in the battle over the remains of Wizard World. This time, it's a summons, and the allegations it makes are pretty remarkable.
The server of the summons is Wizard World Inc. The recipient(s)? For starters, the three Shamus Bros, Gareb, Stephen, and Ken. But wait, there's more! It also lists 4 Brothers and Pivot Media, both of which are owned by Gareb. But wait, there's more! It's All Normal, owned by Stephen. Gem Funding. And Eric Weisblum and Vincent Labarbara. (Robert Knie was also named initially, but he has since been dropped from the complaint.)
We know the Shamuses by now, but who are these other two? They, along with the aforementioned Knie, are shareholders in Wizard World. They are alleged to be majority holders and close friends of the Shamuses. And the complaint says they were involved in a plot to try and stage a coup to take over Wizard World.
Remember my last report, when I mentioned that a shareholder meeting for Wizard World hadn't happened yet for this year? Well, it seems the reason for that is, according to the complaint, Stephen, Ken, Gareb, Weisblum, and Labarbara (I'm not sure if Knie is still factoring into this. Remember, he's been dropped from the complaint, and I'm working off the original filing here, so keep an open mind, m'kay?) were going to team up and force an ouster of John Maatta, the present CEO, and install Stephen in the post.
The complaint alleges that Stephen has made statements that confirm this. But court documents can allege all kinds of things -- that is why they go to trial, to iron them out. However, we have a smoking gun that makes the charges pretty hard to refute. Labarbara owns a company, Network 1, that finances Jerrick Media Holdings. Recall that, on Dec 2, Wizard declared that they had found additional funding and the Dec 5 revealed it was from the Bristol Investment Fund. Well, on Dec 1, Jerrick issued a press release stating their intentions to buy Wizard World. However, there was allegedly no contact between Wizard and Jerrick before the press release, and nothing after. Wizard alleges this was to motivate other shareholders into uniting behind Team Shamus.
Wizard states that Team Shamus has not filed its intentions for its stock ownership with the SEC, in violation with trading rules, and seeks to block them from trading OR VOTING until they have done so and the market has a chance to absorb the news.
The "voting" part is what I find interesting. If they are blocked from voting, then if a shareholder meeting is held sometime in March and Team Shamus is out, the board may go with whatever Maatta and Paul Kessler recommends.
Here's what you need to look at on the calendar:
January 4 -- Wizard World New Orleans, with a huge influx of people selling autographs
Februrary 17 -- Wizard World Portland, which has a sizable line-up
March 15 -- Corporate taxes are due
March 17 -- Wizard World Cleveland
If Wizard is going to declare bankruptcy, March 15 is the right time, when the taxes are due. The board may decide they are done with this Hindenburg of a company and bail. The asset agreement makes Kessler and company first creditor, so they get the Wizard brand and assets, leaving Team Shamus out in the cold.
I was invited to participate in a dead pool for Wizard. I took April. I'm not planning to spend the money, but I am shopping around....