Thursday, October 25, 2007

Dickering over the price

"Lady, you are about to be offered a bribe."
"How big? It'll take quite a chunk to keep me in style the rest of my life in Rio."
"Well . . . you can't expect me to outbid Associated Press, or Reuters. How about a hundred?"
"What do you think I am?"
"We settled that, we're dickering over the price. A hundred and fifty?"

Stranger in a Strange Land—Robert A. Heinlein

Well, BEA has responded to Oracle's Sunday deadline to take or leave a $17 a share buyout with a $21 a share counter offer. When the offer was originally announced, I estimated that $18.55 a share was a fair price, but considered the possibility of a $21 offer. The market is pricing BEAS at $17.67, which is a touch low in my opinion. The two companies have been rumored to be in merger talks for years, but only this month have the rumors been confirmed.

Here's my guess about what has happened since then: Initially, BEA rejected the Oracle offer because it hoped some other company would step in with a competing bid. When that didn't happen, management sent Oracle a letter rejecting the bid again saying it was too low. Oracle responded by setting a limit on the offer of this Sunday. Now BEA was in a bind: if it let the offer expire, it would be clear that there was no competing offer. But management needed to induce Oracle to bid more. That is why they produced the counter offer.

We know that Oracle will end up buying BEA. The only remaining question is the price.

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