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Card maker American Greetings agrees to go private

CLEVELAND — American Greetings has agreed to be taken private for about $600 million by a group led by some of its top executives.

The greeting card and gift seller said Monday that a group formed by the Weiss family, including Chairman Morry Weiss and CEO Zev Weiss and others, will buy the shares of the company they don’t already own for $18.20 per share in cash.

This is a 13 percent premium to American Greetings Corp.’s closing price of $16.10 last Thursday.

If American Greetings’ board declares a quarterly dividend of 15 cents per share and the deal closed in July as expected, shareholders would receive $18.35 per share.

The Weiss family initially offered to buy the Cleveland company in September for $17.18 per share.

The company values the entire deal at $878 million including assumed debt and the settlement of stock options not held by the Weiss family.

American Greetings said that the acquisition will be financed with a combination of the contributions of company stock owned by the Weiss family, cash funded by a $240 million non-voting preferred stock investment committed by a subsidiary of Koch Industries Inc., $600 million in committed debt financing and available cash.

American Greetings’ board unanimously approved the deal, which still needs shareholder approval. The company said that those that hold a majority of outstanding stock not held by the Weiss family or a board member or executives of the company or any of its subsidiaries must approve the transaction.

In addition to its namesake brand, American Greetings Corp. also owns Carlton Cards, Recycled Paper Greetings and Papyrus.

Shares of American Greetings rose $1.95, or 12.1 percent, to $18.05 in midday trading. The stock hit a new high of $18.11 earlier in the session, the highest point since October 2011. For the year to date, the shares are down 4.7 percent.

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