And the award for worst takeover attempt goes to…

Feb 01, 2012
<p><em>Tim Human</em>&rsquo;s monthly M&amp;A column</p>

In previous years at the IR Magazine Canada Awards, Elena Cherney, editor of the Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, announces the paper’s own set of prizes: the Dubious Achievements Awards, or the Dubies, which shine a spotlight on moments of embarrassment or incompetence from the world of business.

Last year’s winners include BP’s Tony Hayward for stating ‘I’d like my life back’ soon after the Deepwater Horizon disaster, and clothing retailer Gap, which hastily pulled a logo rebrand after widespread objections via social media.

A special group Dubie was also awarded to Greece, Portugal and Ireland for best ensemble cast in a hapless tragi-comedy.

This year's Dubies

With the 2012 Canada Awards fast approaching, I would like to make my own suggestion for this year’s Dubies.

It’ll certainly be a hotly fought contest in 2012. Europe’s political elite are surely threatening to sweep the board, thanks to their collective mishandling of the European debt crisis.

And a special lifetime achievement award could be in the offing for the Olympus board, which, it has been revealed, worked to hide losses for more than a decade.

My nomination, however, goes to G4S, the FTSE 100 provider of security services, for its aborted £5.2 bn ($8 bn) takeover of Danish cleaning company ISS last November.

G4S botches job

While the deal wasn’t necessarily a bad idea, the manner in which it was carried out resulted in intense embarrassment for the company and appears to have cost the chairman his job.

G4S discussed the bid in advance with its top shareholders but, according to media reports, gave them only an hour each per meeting.

Coming at a time of nervousness in the market, a large, transformational deal like this was always going to be hard to push through, so rushing the premarketing wasn’t a good idea.

G4S then announced the deal to the market, only to look on in horror as, one by one, a slew of leading shareholders publicly opposed the takeover.

The firm eventually caved in and abandoned its bid. Come the Dubies, it must be a front-runner for worst takeover attempt of the year.

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