Perelman, Partner Will Buy 9.9% Stake in Aames

From Bloomberg News

Aames Financial Corp. said financier Ronald Perelman and thrift executive Gerald Ford will buy a 9.9% stake in the consumer finance company for about $38 million, possibly signaling an eventual move to buy the company.

Perelman and Ford, his partner in California Federal Bank, have agreed to buy 2.78 million newly issued Aames shares for $13.76 a share, Aames said. Ford and Howard Gittis, Perelman's lieutenant at his holding company, MacAndrews & Forbes Holdings Inc., will join the board of Los Angeles-based Aames, which makes home loans to borrowers with credit troubles.

The deal comes six months after Aames rejected California Federal's tentative bid to buy the firm for as much as $20 a share, according to people familiar with the matter. The bid included $14 in cash plus additional amounts based on the performance of Aames' loans.

Last year, Aames said it was exploring a sale. None took place because the offers received were too low, the sources said.

California Federal, a San Francisco-based thrift, has made several purchases in the consumer finance industry in addition to its recent agreement to take over Golden State Bancorp of Glendale.

Representatives of Aames and MacAndrews & Forbes declined to comment on the possibility of an acquisition.

Perelman is buying Aames stock through a new company he's setting up, Perelman spokesman James Conroy said. He will put up 80% of the new investment, and Ford will pay 20%. They will get warrants to buy an additional 9.9% of Aames' outstanding shares that can be exercised at 125% of the original stock purchase price, Aames said. The warrants, to expire in three years, can be exercised only if Aames is sold to another buyer.

In New York Stock Exchange trading, Aames shares rose 25 cents to close at $15.06 before the deal was announced.

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