Xerox Bows to Virus, Drops HP Takeover Fight

The market values of both companies have declined since the coronavirus pandemic intensified.
Matthew HellerApril 1, 2020

After a five-month offensive, Xerox is dropping its hostile takeover bid for HP due to the turmoil in the financial markets caused by the coronavirus.

Xerox had sweetened its cash-and-stock offer for HP to $24 per share in February, representing an equity value at the time of roughly $34 billion. HP rejected the offer, saying it “meaningfully undervalues HP and disproportionately benefits Xerox shareholders.”

Since then, the market caps of both companies have declined since then as the coronavirus pandemic has intensified, reducing the deal value to about $31 billion.

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“The current global health crisis and resulting macroeconomic and market turmoil caused by COVID-19 have created an environment that is not conducive to Xerox continuing to pursue an acquisition of HP Inc.,” Xerox said Tuesday in a news release.

The company also it was ending its proxy fight to take control of HP and took a parting swipe at the HP board.

“The refusal of HP’s board to meaningfully engage over many months and its continued delay tactics have proven to be a great disservice to HP stockholders, who have shown tremendous support for the transaction,” Xerox said.

A merger would have combined two tech legends, with Xerox better-known for large printers and HP bigger in PCs as well as desktop printers and supplies. Xerox claimed the combination could yield annual cost savings of more than $2 billion that would help the companies weather the decline in the printing industry.

“Xerox’s move to buy a company more than three times its size was always going to be a challenge, but at the outset the company was in a stronger position than it is today,” The Wall Street Journal reported. “It had cash coming in from the sale of its joint venture with Fujifilm Holdings Corp. and its stock had been rising as it continued to cut costs.”

But since the virus outbreak, HP’s market value has fallen to around $25 billion, just below where it had been before Xerox’s initial bid emerged, while Xerox’s has roughly halved, falling to around $4 billion.

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