Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Proxy Fight!

Express Scripts is not skulking away from Caremark's summary rejection, opting instead to raise the volume by nominating four directors of its choosing for the Caremark board. This tactic, an old standby of hostile takeovers, allows the successful hostile to get a friendly board which will, in turn, approve the hostile's takeover proposal. CVS, whose friendly proposal has been embraced by Caremark, labeled the ESRX move a "publicity stunt." It's not, unless CVS means that ESRX is using any means necessary to plead its case to Caremark shareholders.

This isn't a move you'd usually see in a deal this big, but Caremark didn't give ESRX many options. What remains to be seen is whether Caremark shareholders will be swayed. While there has been some grumbling, it doesn't seem loud enough yet. Will shareholders decide that the 50% cash component and 13% premium in the ESRX deal outweighs the better timing and increased chance of closing the CVS deal? I'd say no, unless ESRX ups its bid.

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