WITH tech titans Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) and Yahoo! Inc. (Nasdaq: YHOO) poised for a brawl, it might be useful for the two to see examples of companies that are right now using the Web to effectively present their bid propaganda.
Ironically, the examples I have to share, whipped up after a quick Google News search for “hostile bid”, are from old-economy companies around the world that are currently at the center of unfriendly takeovers.
That’s saying something right there that companies in industries as mundane as mining and garments are using the Web more effectively than two of the world’s leading technology giants. But as I said yesterday, it’s something we’ve long known about from our research of global IR website practices.
Anyway, let’s see how to do this stuff properly. First up, metals giant BHP Billiton (NYSE: BHP) and its mammoth $132 billion hostile bid for industry counterpart Rio Tinto plc (NYSE: RTP). If you visit BHP’s corporate website, you will immediately see a promo for its bid page. This includes a variety of materials including a video interview with CEO Marius Kloppers, news releases, presentation Q&A transcripts, and webcasts.
BHP’s is not actually that great an example of a bid site, but it’s still better than nothing, which is what Microsoft provides. I have better examples of bid sites to show later on. Below is a screenshot of BHP’s corporate homepage showing the promo on the right with the separate bid information page superimposed.
As the target in this case, Rio Tinto’s “response site” could be of interest to Yahoo! It’s a fairly comprehensive affair with a strong key message that leaves no doubt what the company thinks of BHP’s unwelcome advances. “Rio Tinto rejects the pre-conditional offer from BHP Billiton,” it declares.
Rio Tinto’s response site includes a section called Our Position, which spells out the board’s opposition to the offer; a Media section that includes news releases and presentations; a Shareholder Communication section containing letters to shareholders; a Contacts area, and the obligatory disclaimer page.
Next up we have an example from Japan and the stodgy old-economy company Sumitomo Heavy Industries (SHI), which also does better than our tech leading lights. Yesterday, it launched a $544 million hostile bid for Axcelis Technologies, Inc. (Nasdaq: ACLS). At the same time, it put up a dedicated website at http://www.axcelisvalue.com/ to make its case to Axcelis’ shareholders.
The deal site includes sections for news releases, letters to the target company’s board, information about SHI and its private equity partner in the deal TPG, and the obligatory disclaimers page.
Another bid site example is from private equity firm Sun Capital’s hostile bid for clothing company Kellwood Company (NYSE: KWD), which appeared to have ended yesterday after five months when the target company finally agreed to a deal.
Sun launched a bid site at http://www.kellwoodvalue.com/. It includes press releases, letters, webcasts and presentations, SEC filings, contacts information, the disclaimer, and information on how shareholders can tender their shares.
Sun Capital’s bid site uses exactly the same template as Sumitomo’s, suggesting that they’re put together by the same proxy solicitation firm. In Sun Capital’s case, that was D. F. King & Co., Inc. of New York. No information is provided on Sumitomo’s site indicating if it is using the same firm.
So there you have it. A few examples of takeover bid sites from the past week. Not hard to find and not that difficult to do.
I should also point out that these examples are confined to current hostile bids. We have been tracking bid sites since 2001 and these examples here are run of the mill. When companies really try, they can put on quite a show. When they try…