3Com Corp.’s board of directors is facing a lawsuit over the proposed acquisition by Hewlett Packard Development Company LP, but a financial analyst who studies Ethernet switching argued if approved, both vendors would benefit from the deal.
The suit came within days of HP’s announcement it agreed to pay US$2.7 billion to acquire Marlborough, Mass.-based 3Com. The deal values 3Com at $7.90 per share. This is 39 per cent higher than 3Com’s share price before the agreement was announced but the plaintiffs say the 3Com board of directors should have tried to get a better offer.
Mansky noted 3Com has cut costs in research and development and alluded to the manufacturer’s focus on Chinese customers with its H3C unit, originally formed in a partnership with with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. of Shenzhen, China.
“They’ve done a decent job in international markets, however the market in North America is still dramatically under penetrated,” Mansky said. “They re-entered that market for the third time in Ethernet switching.”
But the statement of claim alleges the 3Com directors failed to “take all necessary steps to ensure that 3Com stockholders would receive the maximum value realizable for their shares of Company stock reasonably available on the market in any transaction effecting the change of corporate control of the company.”
3Com officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The allegations have not been proven in court.
Named as defendants are former 3Com CEO Eric Benhamou, currently chairman of board, and president Ron Sege.
The lawsuit claims financial analysts believe that 3Com is undervalued.
But financial statements 3Com released to the press indicate quarterly revenues and profits are dropping. During the three months ending May 29, 2009, 3Com made $20 million on revenues of $295 million. But during the quarter ending Aug. 31, net earnings were $7.46 million, or 63 per cent lower. Revenues for the latest quarter were $290.5 million, 1.5 per cent lower than in the previous quarter. All figures are in U.S. dollars.
3Com’s net income for the year ending May 29, 2009 was $115 million, on revenues of $1.317 billion. 3Com lost $229 million the previous year on revenues of $1.295 billion. The loss in the previous year included a writedown of goodwill of US$158 million.
The lawsuit alleges the directors “failed to implement an adequate bidding mechanism to foster a fair auction of the company to the highest bidder or to sufficiently explore strategic alternatives …”