Yet another Philadelphia-area public company is going out (following Hercules, Rohm & Haas and Philadelphia Insurance in recent weeks.) The $1.6 billion sale of Malvern-based Ikon Office Solutions to Ricoh -- AP story in Inquirer here -- is getting extra scrutiny from corporate shareholder-management consultant Damien Park, who says activist investor Steel Partners in New York pushed Ikon to sell out.
"This is all driven by Steel Partners. They're one of the most aggressive hedge funds in the world, with $9 billion in assets under management," said Park. "They've been really public, and this is no real surprise," he added. "They're the largest shareholder. They own about 10 percent at a cost of about $10.51." Steel pushed Ikon last year to buy back shares at $17.50; Ikon balked, paying up to $15 in a limited buyback that boosted the company's debt.
Ricoh bought in at $17.25, nearly meeting Steel's demand from last year. "It's a healthy return, even when you spread it over four years," Park said.
Park knows Steel from of old: He learned his trade helping his dad, then-Del Global Technologies Corp. ceo Samuel E. Park, try to ward off a Steel coup in 2003 (Steel won).
Check out Park's activist-investor blog. http://activistinvesting.blogspot.com