The Xerox/Fujifilm deal was never a given for any number of reasons. Now the planned takeover has been thrown into even more doubt, as Xerox CEO Jeff Jacobson and six board members are stepping down.
The move is considered a huge win for Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason, who have been attempting to kill the Fujifilm deal, which they believe undervalues Xerox. As Reuters notes, pair of activist shareholders won a court ruling in New York last week, which found a judge referring to Jacobson as “hopelessly conflicted” in his role as CEO.
“Following the court’s decision last week to enjoin Xerox’s proposed combination with Fuji Xerox,” Xerox wrote in a statement, “the Board considered the significant risk and uncertainty of a prolonged litigation, during which the company would be prohibited from negotiating with Fujifilm, as well as the potential instability and business disruption during a proxy contest.”
Icahn was, unsurprisingly less reserved in his comments. The billionaire investor compared the Fujifilm deal to multiple heightened television dramas to really hammer his point home.
“We believe Friday’s decision and this agreement mark a watershed moment for corporate governance generally and for Xerox specifically,” said Icahn. “With new leadership in place, we believe Xerox will be much better positioned to take advantage of multiple potential value-enhancing opportunities, including restructuring its relationship with Fujifilm, our supposed ‘partner’ whose conduct over the last year is more unbelievable than what you see on fictional TV shows like House of Cards or Billions.”
Icahn added that this is “an exciting time to be a Xerox stakeholder.” It certainly is for Icahn himself — in addition to former Novitex head John Visentin, who will step in as CEO, Icahn Enterprises CEO Keith Cozza will become Xerox’s chairman. Sounds like the story is going to get really good in season two.