Friday, November 16, 2007

BHP-Rio Tinto (RTP): The Dangers of the Pac-Man Defense

The Wall Street Journal's Deal Journal answers a question I had when I saw RTP was mulling a Pac-Man: "do they work?".
Here's Deal Journal's answer:

British mining giant Rio Tinto, trying to fight off an unsolicited $137 billion takeover bid by Australian rival BHP Billiton, is considering turning the tables and launching a counter-bid for BHP, according to this WSJ article, citing people close to the matter.

The move is known as the Pac-Man defense, named for the popular 1980s video game. It is a tactic that hasn’t been seen round these deal-making parts in a while. And judging from a list of historic Pac-Man gambits, it is a highly risky maneuver.

1999 — In July, France’s Elf Aquitaine launches a 50-billion-euro ($50.97 billion at the exchange rate then) cash-and-stock counterbid to acquire TotalFina, which earlier in the month bid 42 billion euros of stock for Elf. The acrimonious battle ends with the surprise announcement in September that they had agreed to a friendly combination after TotalFina sweetened its all-share-bid for Elf by 9.2%, raising the value to 47 billion euros ($48.7 billion).

1998-99 — United Kingdom brewer Marston, Thompson & Evershed launches a daring 339 million-pound bid ($539.6 million at the exchange rate then) for Wolverhampton & Dudley Breweries, turning the tables on Wolverhampton’s hostile bid the prior November. Wolverhampton wins anyway....MORE