Stonington Gives Loan to, Gets Stake in Merisel

Merisel Inc., an El Segundo-based distributor of computer hardware and software, accepted a $137.1-million loan from Stonington Partners, a New York investment firm, so that it could pay holders of its 12.5% senior notes by a Friday deadline. Stonington also paid $14.9 million for 4.9 million shares of Merisel's common stock. After the debt is converted to equity sometime before Jan. 31, Stonington will have a 62.4% stake in Merisel, spokeswoman Leslie Sinfield said. Stonington first offered to invest $152 million in Merisel in July in return for a 70% stake in the company, but that plan was rejected by the holders of the senior notes. Merisel's agreement with the note holders expired Friday, freeing the company to accept a "more favorable" offer from Stonington, Sinfield said. Merisel has suffered from disappointing sales at its ComputerLand retail stores and is facing higher costs for distributing new products. Merisel shares closed at $4.31 on Friday, up 3 cents in Nasdaq trading.

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