First, the initial mistake. I had assumed that the convertible option on the debt would result in newly issued shares. But since it is Fairfax's holding company level which is holding the debt, this is actually not the case. The exchange option into Odyssey Re("ORH") shares must come from Fairfax itself, meaning it would be equivalent to giving back a portion of the shares it had purchased.
At first, I thought that would have still been fine. Based on what Fairfax announced, the first transaction involved the purchase of 4.3 million ORH shares for 78 million in debt and the option to convert into 2.15 million shares. In such transaction, ORH's stock would have had to rise 75% for the convertible feature to even be worthwhile, meaning that it was a legitimate transaction (the reasons for which were spelled out in the previous post).
However, I then ran across conflicting reports. On the one hand, I had the Fairfax press release, which stated that:
Fairfax Financial Holdings Limited, through a subsidiary, has purchased 4,300,000 outstanding common shares of Odyssey Re Holdings Corp. in a private transaction. As a result of this purchase, Fairfax beneficially owns 52,364,400 (80.6%) of the 65,003,963 outstanding common shares of Odyssey Re. As consideration, the subsidiary issued US$78,045,000 principal amount of 3.15% Exchangeable Notes due February 28, 2010 which are exchangeable into 2,150,000 Odyssey Re common shares for two week periods commencing on each of November 19, 2004 and February 16, 2005.But then I found the SEC documents relating to this transaction, which can be found here and here. They state:
Amendment No. 1 to the Schedule 13D related to the purchase by Fairfax, through a subsidiary, pursuant to a master note purchase agreement, dated as of March 3, 2003, of 4,300,000 outstanding Shares (the "2003 Purchased Shares") in a private transaction. As consideration for the Purchased Shares, a subsidiary of Fairfax issued $78,045,000 aggregate principal amount of 3.15% Exchangeable Notes due February 28, 2010 (the "Old Exchangeable Notes"), exchangeable into 4,300,000 Shares.In addition, two other passages which stuck out:
WHEREAS, the Issuer and the Guarantor intend that the transactions contemplated hereby result in the Guarantor being able to treat members of the consolidated group (within the meaning of U.S. Treasury Regulations section 1.1502-1(h)), of which Fairfax, Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Guarantor, is the common parent, as owning at least 80 percent of the outstanding Shares (as defined below) and therefore treat Odyssey (as defined below) as a member of such group for U.S. federal income tax purposes;And also:
(Note: this is one of the first lines in the master purchase agreement)
it is acting for its own account, and has made its own independent decision to enter into this Agreement and each other Transaction Document and as to whether this Agreement and the other Transaction Documents are appropriate or proper for it based upon its own judgment and upon advice of such advisors as it deems necessary; each of the Issuer and the Guarantor acknowledges and agrees that it is not relying, and has not relied, upon any communication (written or oral) of the Purchaser or any affiliate of the Purchaser with respect to the or any other Transaction Document and that it has conducted its own analyses of the legal, accounting, tax and other implications hereof and thereof (it being understood that information and explanations related to the terms and conditions of this Agreement or any other Transaction Document shall not be considered investment advice or a recommendation to enter into this Agreement or any such Transaction Document); it further acknowledges and confirms that it has taken independent tax advice with respect to this Agreement and each other Transaction Document;legal, accounting, tax or other implications of this Agreement.The combination of all of this leaves me scratching my head. I want to go with my trust in Prem, but as someone in the comments said: In this instance, Prem may have been "a bit too clever." So, the lawsuit remains a risk and I will have to settle for a "wait and see" approach. That is unfortunate too, because Odyssey Re is trading at a very discounted price on concerns over this lawsuit.