Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Caremark - ESRX Developments

Express Scripts (ESRX) continues to battle away for Caremark. Along with the proxy fight, ESRX also filed a lawsuit last week aimed at the breakup fee in the CVS-Caremark deal. I suppose they have to try everything, but the lawsuit isn't going to work; aside from the merits there's a decent chance they don't even have standing to sue.

As predicted, CVS has upped the stakes a bit in an attempt to push things over the top, announcing a $2 special dividend for Caremark shareholders. This isn't quite as good as it appears, since shareholders essentially pay themselves for the post-merger portion of the company attributable to Caremark, making the dividend closer to $1 than $2. However, between that and recent stock price increases, the ESRX bid is now less than 5% better than the CVS proposal. There's no question CVS is now the superior proposal, given the timing benefit and the fact that regulatory clearance has already been obtained.

The next move belongs to ESRX - while they will continue to slog forward on the desperation measures of the proxy fight and lawsuit, expect to see a sweetened bid in the days to come.

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