Wall Street began to think Revlon was too big — for Perelman — to fail, recent court documents detail.
In response to a 2020 lawsuit filed by Citigroup seeking to recover $900 million in Revlon debt repayments that it mistakenly passed on to creditors, a lender cited Perelman’s frequent bailouts to claim that, for beneficiaries, the advance payment was not an obvious error.
The belief that Perelman would go above and beyond to save Revlon from failure had become known in the markets as the “Perelman Put”, the fund explained in court documents.
Perelman’s options now appear limited, and Revlon’s fate rests with the federal courts in the Southern District of New York. The company, which has struggled to compete with startups backed by social media influencers, listed assets totaling $2.3 billion at the end of April and debts of $3.7 billion.
Even after Revlon shares jumped 76% on Friday in response to a report of a potential bid from Reliance Industries Ltd. in India, shares are down about 69% since the start of the year.
MacAndrews & Forbes, meanwhile, has little left without what has long been its crown jewel.
Revlon’s demise is more than a matter of pride. He threatens to burn not only his suppliers and creditors, but also the banks and even a foundation that loaned Perelman money in deals backed by company stock.
Excluding Revlon, she has stakes in biotech companies vTv Therapeutics Inc. and Siga Technologies, which together are worth around $300 million. He also owns Vericast and last month received a $2.85 billion bid for the company from one of its major creditors, who put no value on Perelman’s stake.
Perelman also liquidated his personal assets, including a nine-acre estate in the Hamptons and property on Manhattan’s Upper East Side. He has listed his $106 million superyacht, C2, for sale.
He told Bloomberg News in 2020 that the sales were part of a quest to “clean house, simplify.” But there were also signs he had overstretched his own finances in addition to the businesses he ran, including an unusual loan his holding company received from a family foundation.
The debts of MacAndrews & Forbes, for example, had been secured by shares of companies he owned, including Revlon. Current creditors include JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deutsche Bank AG and Royal Bank of Canada, according to filings.
The Revlon shares also secured a $125 million loan that private foundations administered by Ronald’s father, Raymond, made to MacAndrews & Forbes in 2016, when Raymond was 98.
After Raymond’s death, there are signs that the loan was transferred along with other assets to the Perelman Family Charitable Trust I, a private foundation administered by Ronald and Debra. A loan held by that foundation had a balance of $132.8 million at the end of 2019, according to the most recent publicly available documents, representing about a third of the trust’s $407 million in assets.
Such a loan would be atypical. Money from private foundations is supposed to be used for charitable purposes and not for the benefit of various “disqualified” people, including the founders, their descendants, or any of their organizations. The Perelman Foundation says in documents that it engaged in at least one unauthorized credit transaction with a disqualified person.
A lawyer for Perelman said last year that all trust transactions associated with Perelman or his children have been reviewed and approved by legal and tax counsel.
Last year, Princeton University dropped plans to put Perelman’s name on a new residential college after it said his family foundation had failed to make promised payments. Columbia University also dropped plans to name a new building after Perelman.
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