If you’ve ever wonder what it’s like to be an activist investor, you may want to take a look at Carl Icahn’s latest open letter to the shareholders of HP and his strong criticism of the HP board for not pursuing its possible acquisition by Xerox. Icahn currently owns around 10.85% of the outstanding shares of Xerox and 4.24% of the outstanding shares of HP, and is keen to see the acquisition take place. Here’s some excerpts from the letter:
I cannot believe that the recalcitrance of HP’s board is driven by any real confidence in its standalone restructuring plan, which the market, shareholders and analysts met with extreme indifference and which seems to amount to little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The road to the graveyard on Wall Street is littered with the bones of companies, such as Eastman Kodak, which wasted a great deal of valuable time by coming up with one ill-fated plan after another and also failed to act decisively when transformative opportunities presented themselves.
It is absurd for the HP board and management team, with such a history of underperformance and missteps, to claim to have had a sudden epiphany and now expect shareholders to trust them to execute a standalone restructuring plan rather than to even explore an opportunity to enter into a combination that could bring about a much needed $2+ billion of cost synergies and possibly save the company.
Over the years, I have seen many obvious “no-brainers” that would greatly enhance value and have worked hard to facilitate these, but I can say without exaggeration that the combination of HP and Xerox is one of the most obvious no-brainers I have ever encountered in my career – one where activism should not even be necessary at all because the merits of the combination are so obvious to everybody involved.
I firmly believe that HP shareholders deserve the opportunity to decide for themselves whether a combination with Xerox makes sense before the idea is summarily rejected by HP’s board for reasons that may not align with the best interests of the company’s shareholders. I implore all HP shareholders who agree with me to reach out to HP’s directors to let them know that immediate action is necessary to explore this opportunity NOW while there is still a willing counterparty on the other side.
You can read the entire letter here: Open Letter to HP Inc. Shareholders.
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