Thursday, April 17, 2008

Death, Taxes & Shareholder Lawsuits

With depressing predictability, the Takeda purchase offer of Millennium has been followed by the filing of a shareholder lawsuit claiming that the MLNM Board of Directors has breached their fiduciary duty.

It is hard not to see this as anything other than a shakedown attempt, figuring that the companies would rather pay to see it go away. Or even more unscrupulous, somebody being conned into suing to provide a revenue stream & publicity for some shady lawyers. Or perhaps a bit of both.

Such a suit ignores the fact that Takeda is buying MLNM for a 50% premium over the previous days price. That price was lower than the recent peak, but not by much -- the Takeda offer represents about a 30% premium over the highest price in many years -- indeed, it was 6 years ago it was so high. So, MLNM was hardly sold cheap.

Of course, there are three other ways the suit could claim merit: either MLNM sat on some explosive positive information, the market was persistantly undervaluing MLNM by a lot, or MLNM directors colluded with Takeda. All highly unlikely.

Such suits are all too commonplace. They simultaneously demean & clog the legal system. Real corporate malfeasance does occur, but this ain't it.

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