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Finish Line-Genesco Buyout Trial Begins

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Nashville, Tenn. Opening arguments were heard Monday in the trial involving Genesco Inc.'s attempts to salvage a $1.5 billion buyout by The Finish Line Inc.

In his opening statement, Finish Line’s attorney said that if a judge forces the chain to complete the buyout, both companies would ultimately fail.

Robert Walker, the lawyer for The Finish Line Inc., said his client initially saw the chance to acquire its larger competitor as a strategic opportunity to expand its market share in the mall retail sector.

Instead, the $54.50-per-share buyout agreement has led to a bitter legal battle over whether Finish Line and investment bank UBS AG should be allowed to walk away because of a long-term problem, called a "material adverse effect."

Genesco's earnings swung to a loss in the second quarter and dropped 65% in the third quarter. Walker said that Genesco's worse-than-expected financial performance since the buyout negotiations indicates that the deal wouldn't generate enough cash flow for the combined company to grow its business or pay its debt obligations to UBS.

Genesco rejected a slightly less generous buyout offer from Foot Locker Inc. in favor of the highly leveraged deal from Finish Line in June.

Genesco's lawyer, Overton Thompson, said he would show evidence that Finish Line developed buyer's remorse following "its zeal to beat out its fiercest competitor" to buy Genesco, and that UBS stood to lose hundreds of millions because of worsening credit conditions.

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