Tuesday, February 20, 2007


I've been a happy customer of XM Radio for two years, and I'll be even happier when I can access the full suite of channels offered by XM and Sirius on their merger. Many don't think the merger will get through. The FCC has an explicit rule prohibiting joint ownership of the spectrum. A narrow definition of the relevant market for antitrust combination analysis would yield an HHI score off the charts (i.e., if the relevant market is satellite radio, the merger yields a monopoly). Despite all that, my prediction is that the merger gets through.

XM and Sirius face competition from all sorts of fronts, from traditional (free) radio to iPod link-up. While some of these might not be considered "substitutes" for antitrust analysis purposes, there's no question that terrestrial radio - and nascent high-definition radio in particular - will be considered. Layered on this competitive analysis will be the fact that two satellite competitors, with their astronomical cost structures, are probably not viable long-term anyway. This will take care of the DOJ's concerns. The FCC will do a similar analysis, and reach the same conclusion and eliminate the spectrum cross-ownership rule, although it will likely be a more tortured path getting there than that of DOJ.

Is many respects, the current FCC prohibition is akin to the cellular cross-ownership rule, which prohibited the same entity from owning both cellular licenses in any given geographic market. That rule was eliminated about four years ago as the availability of PCS spectrum made it largely moot. Circumstances demand a similar result here.

Monday, February 12, 2007

Proxy Advisor: NO to CVS-Caremark

In the continuing tussle between CVS and Express Scripts over Caremark, independent proxy advisor Glass Lewis has weighed in, advising Caremark shareholders to vote "no" on the CVS link-up. I can't recall ever seeing a deal of this size (well north of $20B) run afoul of the proxy guys, much less for the target conducting a "flawed negotiating process." Glass Lewis, like many others, has latched onto the fact that Caremark has shown a strangely unyielding commitment to seeing the CVS deal through, despite ardent interest from others.

I've pointed out in previous posts some of the speculation surrounding the motivations of Caremark management. Suffice it to say is highly unusual for the managers of a multi-billion dollar public company to act as Caremark's has in handling this sale process.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Negotiating Tactics

Besides the stuff on building a corporate development department, this last issue of Corporate Dealmaker also has a piece on negotiations that stresses the importance of preparing for big negotiating sessions and focusing on structural/relationship issues rather than tactics. The acticle includes a great paraphrased quote from Marty Lipton (long-term readers will know I've spent my share of late evenings at his firm): "You can get the price up 2% by at-the-table tactics; by bringing in other credible buyers you can bring the price up by 50%."

I've got little use for negotiating tactics, and I'd take this one further: That 2% opportunity is offset by an increased risk that you'll crater the deal with juvenile, offensive or misdirected tactics. Spend the time figuring out what the other side needs to get. Make sure your own objectives aren't muddled. Then go to the negotiating table as yourself - you won't need to play any games.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Google Blogger Issue

Google continues to be unable to move me to the new blogger application, and it seems for the last few weeks my posts haven't actually been published. As I don't pay a lot of attention to what my blog looks like, I didn't notice until now. In any event, check back through the last few posts if there's something you've missed.