Stocks mostly moved sideways Monday given little news on earnings or the economy, but major benchmarks closed up slightly. The Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJINDICES: ^DJI) and the S&P 500 (SNPINDEX: ^GSPC) set new records.
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Acquisition deals were in the news today, with HP (NYSE: HPQ) turning down an offer from Xerox Holdings (NYSE: XRX) and Bristol-Myers Squibb (NYSE: BMY) announcing its merger with Celgene (NASDAQ: CELG) will close this week.
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HP snubs Xerox -- for now
The HP board of directors rejected a buyout offer from Xerox but left the door wide open for further talks, and HP shares slipped 0.8% to $20.01 while Xerox rose 1%. The response, in the form of a letter addressed to Xerox CEO John Visentin, included the full text of the offer Xerox made on Nov. 5.
Xerox, the much smaller company of the two, had offered $22 per HP share in cash and Xerox stock, financed with cash on hand and new debt. The proposed transaction would have resulted in Xerox shareholders owning 52% of the combined company.
HP's response questioned the impact of the massive debt the combined company would be saddled with and the validity of Xerox's claim of $2 billion in cost savings. With growth challenges of its own, HP also took a shot at Xerox's declining revenue and future growth prospects.
The letters showed, though, that the companies had been involved in combination talks before the unsolicited offer was made, and that HP is clearly interested in a deal on different terms, saying it is "ready to engage" in further discussions.
Bristol-Myers, Celgene merger approved on close FTC vote
Bristol-Myers Squibb announced on Friday after the market close that the final hurdle to its acquisition of Celgene has been cleared and that the deal will close on this Wednesday. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) approved the agreement between Celgene and Amgen to divest psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis drug Otezla, resolving the last regulatory issue for the merger. Shares of Bristol-Myers fell 1.6%.
The FTC had objected to the merger on anti-competitive grounds, saying that since Bristol-Myers has a pipeline drug under development that would compete with Otezla, the combination would reduce competition and harm U.S. consumers. The commission ordered that Celgene divest itself of the drug as a condition for completing the merger, and in August, Celgene announced the $13.4 billion deal with Amgen for Otezla.
The only surprise may have been that the FTC approval came on a close 3-2 vote. Two commissioners, Rohit Chopra and Rebecca Kelly Slaughter, voted against approval, citing rising drug prices and alleged anti-competitive behavior by drug companies. Though this deal is going through, the vote may indicate that future big drug mergers may face tougher challenges from the FTC.
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