Banking & Finance

Other In-Trouble Mergers After Affiliated Computer (ACS, TRB, CMLS, GCO, PPH, FINL, BX, COMS)

Yesterday morning 24/7 Wall St. covered how the buyout for Affiliated Computer Services (NYSE:ACS) was for all practical purposes looking like toast, and we wanted to see which other pending deals were at risk.  A much more detailed review went to our free email newsletter subscribers yesterday morning, and all of these spreads have widened out today.  The news from last night confirmed this buyout was dead and today the Chairman received notice that the independent directors would leave their posts as per his demands.

But there are many other mergers out there that have misleading merger-arb spreads that are indicative of potential trouble as far as a closing at all or at least a risk of the stated merger price being sent to a reduced buyout price. Almost all of these mergers are different than the ones from September that we deemed at risk.

Tribune (NYSE:TRB) $34 buyout from Sam Zell and employees….
Shares reached almost $30.50 yesterday and today’s $29.90 is representative of a 13.7% merger-arb spread for a merger that shareholders have already approved.  24/7 Wall St. has given our own prediction for a buyout price that Sam Zell would likely offer if financing gets tight in this LBO-OPM (leverage buyout, other peoples money) offer.  We are looking at updating this in our New Media/Old Media subscriber letter next week.

PHH Corp. (NYSE:PHH) $31.50 buyout……
With a near-50% merger-arb spread consider this one toast or revised far lower or maybe only even by one of the buyout partners.  The Blackstone (NYSE:BX) buyout is supposedly to be revisited momentarily, although JPMorgan and Lehman that were financing a portion of the deal have (as of last look) maintained a $750 million shortfall on the debt portion here.  General Electric (NYSE:GE) was Blackstone’s buyout partner and the deal as originally intended was going to send the fleet services group (corporate car and truck fleets) to GE and the mortgage business to Blackstone. 

Genesco (NYSE:GCO) $54.50 buyout……
The $1.5 billion footwear acquisition that had been agreed to in June was scheduled to close last month, but would-be acquirer Finish Line (NASDAQ:FINL) and investment bank UBS stalled on the deal because of concerns over Genesco’s financial performance after the $54.50 buyout deal was announced.  At $45.40 there is a 20% merger-arb spread.  24/7 Wall St.’s belief is that Finish Line is in no position to do the deal whether it “states uncomfort and concerns” or not.

3Com (NASDAQ:COMS) $5.30 buyout…..
3Com’s buyout is not at risk over shareholder revolts nor over financing.  This one is at risk over China’s Huawei holding a stake after the Bain Capital buyout over “national security concerns” because many US and partner government agencies still relying on 3Com’s communication equipment. Senators are reviewing the deal and saber rattling here.  Boy, those must be some old systems.  24/7 Wall St. is reviewing this one now for the Special Situation Investing Newsletter since at $4.86 this has only a 9% merger arb-spread for an at-risk deal on a company that management can’t fix on its own.

Cumulus Media (NASDAQ:CMLS) $11.75 management-led buyout…..
The $1.3 Billion MBO agreement announced on July 23, 2007 has been a quiet one.  When announced this was almost a 40% premium.  At $10.12 today, there is still a 16% merger-arb spread.  The Board of Directors approved the deal and recommended that shareholders vote for it, but the financing from Merrill Lynch Global Private Equity and Merrill Lynch Capital Corporation “could” be up for interpretation.  Jim Cramer actually called this a takeover candidate before the MBO was announced.  Cumulus is also a name 24/7 Wall St. has under review for its New Media Old Media subscriber newsletter.

Jon C. Ogg
November 1, 2007

Jon Ogg produces the subscriber-based Special Situation Investing Newsletter where we cover buyout candidates, restructurings, spin-offs, and more.  We recently issued our “Small Cap Internet Watch List” PART 1 of 2 that showed a list of smaller web related properties we think could be acquired under the right circumstances, and we even listed which predator companies could or would acquire them under the right circumstances.