Better late than never

It is has only taken three and half years, but the FSA has finally started (criminal) proceedings against former directors of  iSoft, the healthcare software company that was...

Buffett/Kraft conspiracy theories

7.5p, or 1 per cent.

That’s the gap between the Cadbury share price and the value of Kraft’s £10.4bn bid on Wednesday morning.

Which will no doubt please those conspiracy...

The Royal Dog bear squeeze

RBS has enjoyed an explosive start to 2010.

Up 10% on Monday, its shares have risen another 10% today.



A number of factors have contributed to the move: a broker tip and odd-ball...

Are Financial Fed execs jumping the gun on deal?

Back in November, Financial Federal (FIF) announced that People’s United Financial (PBCT), a bank I used to cover very closely when I worked in New Haven, was buying the financing company for around $738 million. The deal caused a nice pop in Financial Federal’s stock after the news was announced.

But it was this 8-K filed yesterday that really caught my eye. While it’s pretty normal for shares — options, RSUs, whatever — to vest immediately once a deal closes, I honestly can’t recall a lot of situations where the shares vest “in anticipation of the pending merger” as the filing notes. Maybe I just haven’t stumbled on this before, but a quick scan of filings shows that this does seem very rare.

The amounts — as outlined in the 8K — are not insignificant. Chairman and CEO Paul Sinsheimer saw over 440,000 restricted shares vest immediately, which was worth $12.1 million. The Form 4, which was also filed yesterday, shows that Sinsheimer sold about 160,000 shares on Dec. 30. Seven other executives also sold shares on Dec. 30, according to a series of other Form 4s filed yesterday. The 8K shows that the shares were worth just shy of $30 million.

The 8-K explains the reasoning behind the early vesting as helping the executives avoid the excess parachute payment tax — known as 280G in tax lingo — and to eliminate the tax gross-up that People’s United would have been on the hook for post-deal. The filing also notes that Peoples United agreed to the accelerated vesting.

Still, given how some deals fall apart at the last minute, the whole thing still seems a bit unusual.

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Cadbury gets creamed by Buffett…

… who also delivers an almighty slapdown to Kraft.

In early afternoon trading on Tuesday, shares in the UK confectioner were hit hard – falling over 4% to 770p...

Levin: ‘Worst deal of century’

Jerry Levin, who sold Time Warner for AOL shares inflated by the dotcom boom, has marked the 10th anniversary of the disastrous $164bn deal by urging corporate titans to accept responsibility for the recent financial crisis. The former Time Warner chief executive, who up to now had avoided apologising for the billions of dollars destroyed by the deal,...

Novartis offers Alcon buy-out

Novartis on Monday offered minority shareholders in US eye-care group Alcon the equivalent of $11.2bn in stock to buy out their shares, after buying 25% of Alcon in 2008, lifting the Swiss pharmaceuticals group’s total acquisition cost to almost $50bn. The deal also triggered speculation about how Nestlé,...

Total in $2.25bn gas deal with Chesapeake

Total on Monday became the third big European energy company to buy into Chesapeake Energy’s US shale gas assets. The French oil producer will pay up to $2.25bn for 25% of Chesapeake’s assets in Texas Barnett Shale, $800m of it in cash and the rest by funding 60% of the project’s costs over the next 5-6 years....

RBS sale of Pakistan arm fails

Royal Bank of Scotland’s withdrawal from Asian retail and commercial banking suffered a setback after the collapse of a plan to sell its Pakistani arm. RBS announced in August it would sell a 99.4% stake in its RBS Pakistan subsidiary to MCB Bank, a Pakistani rival, for PKR7.2bn (£53m). However, it said on Monday that the deal had lapsed because it had not received the necessary regulatory approval by end- 2009....

Hutchison mulls telco buy-out

Hutchison Whampoa, the Hong Kong ports-to-retail conglomerate controlled by billionaire Li Ka-shing, is considering a possible buy-out offer to take its loss-making telecoms subsidiary private. Hutchison Telecommunications International (HTIL), an emerging markets-focused telecoms group spun off from Hutchison six years ago,...

Dogeza, US style

Here’s a trend we’d like to encourage…

Ten years after consummating what is generally regarded as the worst merger in corporate history, former Time Warner AOL chief executive Jerry Levin has apologised.

What’s more, he’s encouraging other execs to atone for their sins –...

CDS report: Nestle sale triggers Cadbury speculation

Markit’s Gavan Nolan wrote this CDS report

It was business as usual today as the credit and equity markets resumed their rally from last year. The Markit iTraxx Europe index closed at 71.5bp, over 2bp tighter than the year-end mark and the tightest level since May 2008 (excluding roll effects)....

MergerMarket’s M&A rankings

Investment banks like these things — and when the latest deal league tables show Goldman Sachs being knocked off the top spot by Morgan Stanley we can treat it as bona fide news.

From MergerMarket, an FT sister company…



We should add, however, that MOST only head the 2009 list because of this…...

Royal Dog of Scotland

RBS has flown out of the traps on the first trading session of 2010:



Aside from a rumour that Brazil’s Unibanco is, for reasons that escape us, interested in buying a stake in RBS (and also Lloyds), the reason seems (to some) to be an example of new year contrarian thinking; Because RBS was the worst performing stock in the FTSE 100 last year (down 40 per cent),...

Kraft set to raise Cadbury bid

Kraft is preparing to raise its £10.3bn hostile offer for Cadbury as the takeover battle for the UK confectionery group reaches its final stages. The US food group, which first approached Cadbury in August, has until Jan 19 to increase its offer, which values the company at about 740p per share. Kraft’s current offer is expected to fail because it has not won the support of enough shareholders and Cadbury’s board,...

NAB moves in on Northern Rock

National Australia Bank is gearing up for a takeover of nationalised UK lender Northern Rock and has held a “beauty parade” of potential advisors on the deal, reports The Observer. NAB, which already owns Clydesdale and Yorkshire banks in the UK, has hosted presentations by Lazard, Citigroup,...

Orion’s creditors agree deal

Creditors of indebted German cable company Orion have agreed a deal that will see Tele Columbus, one of its operating companies, sold to a new company. Shareholders of Orion will sell their shares in Tele Columbus to a special purpose vehicle funded by the company’s lenders in exchange for €2.5m ($3.6m)....

Brazil’s Itau eyes RBS, Lloyds

Brazilian lender Itau Unibanco is considering buying stakes in one of the British banks rescued by the UK government last year, reports the Sunday Times. The report cites Pedro Malan, who chairs Itau Unibanco’s international advisory board, saying that Itau, Brazil’s largest non-government lender,...