LOWELL -- Market Basket shareholders aligned with Arthur S. Demoulas issued their first public statement Saturday night regarding Arthur T. Demoulas' attempt to purchase the company, saying they're willing to accept the purchase price offered by the ousted CEO, but not his conditions.

The shareholders who control the company say that while the purchase price offered by Arthur T. is acceptable, other details of his offer are not.

The statement came hours after three independent members of the company's board of directors issued a statement of their own asking the company's shareholders to resolve the dispute that has left the roughly $4 billion company's stores empty and unstocked.

The three independent members of the board said Saturday that 25,000 workers and 2 million customers "shouldn't be held hostage for a business deal between shareholders."

On Friday, the independent directors proposed allowing Arthur T. Demoulas to return to the company, along with any employees who resigned or were dismissed, but not as CEO. Their proposal was that Arthur T. Demoulas return while co-CEO's James Gooch and Felicia Thornton remain in charge.

While Arthur T. Demoulas would not regain control of the company under that proposal, he would be able to work to restore the company while negotiations for a sale continued.

A spokeswoman for Arthur T. Demoulas dismissed that proposal as "disingenous.


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"This is an attempt to have him stabilize the company, while they consider selling it to another bidder," Justine Griffin, managing director of Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, said in a statement Friday on behalf of Arthur T. Demoulas.

The company is now controlled by the Class A shareholders aligned with Arthur S. Demoulas. They own 50.5 percent of the company's shares. Meanwhile, Class B shareholders aligned with Arthur T. Demoulas own 49.5 percent of the company's shares.

Arthur T. Demoulas has offered to buy out the 50.5 percent of the company he doesn't control. Details of his offer remain unclear.

In their statement Saturday night, the Class A shareholders said they were speaking out for the first time because they felt "compelled to correct the public record."

"We are, and have been, prepared to sell our majority ownership interest in Market Basket to the Class B Shareholders led by Arthur T. Demoulas for the price proposed by Arthur T. Demoulas," the shareholders said.

The Class A shareholders said that while they are willing to accept Arthur T. Demoulas' offer price, they suggested Arthur T. may not have enough cash to actually complete the sale, and that financing a deal with Arthur T. remains a sticking point.

Class A shareholders said they offered Arthur T. an interest-bearing loan, secured by collateral, to help him come up with enough cash to close the sale "if he does not have enough cash to close."

"Our proposal, made last week and reiterated throughout this week, has not been accepted," the Class A shareholders said.

It was not immediately clear if Arthur T. Demoulas is seeking such a loan or if he does not have enough cash to close the deal without such a loan. An email and telephone call requesting a response from a spokeswoman for Arthur T did not generate an immediate response.

Class A shareholders said their loan offer was standard for such deals.

"We have been advised that it would be irresponsible to make a loan without collateral, interest or a payment schedule, similar to terms that would apply to any traditional bank loan," the Class A shareholders said.

The statement made by Class A shareholders went on to criticize previous statements made by Arthur T. Demoulas.

"Arthur T. Demoulas' conduct to date, including his most recent public statement, continues to undermine Market Basket and the Class B shareholders have not indicated a willingness to engage in good faith discussions for a sale," the Class A shareholders said. "The Class B shareholders have given us no choice at this time but to consider all available options to sell our equity in order to protect the interests of all Market Basket stakeholders. 

"We have given Arthur T. Demoulas and the other Class B shareholders many opportunities to end the current controversy. We continue to be prepared to sell our interests in Market Basket for the price originally proposed by Arthur T. Demoulas."

Follow Robert Mills on Twitter and Tout @Robert_Mills.

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