Jesse Eisinger at the Wall Street Journal notes that shareholder activists are all for corporate divestment and spin-offs until they actually happen. The market collectively yawned when Tyco (TYC) and Cendant (CD) announced spin-offs. With all the private equity cash awash in the market it is surprising that parts of these two companies have not been purchased as of yet.
It should trouble investors that ready buyers for the assets of Cendant and Tyco have yet to appear. Private-equity firms, awash in cash and looking for deals, haven’t stepped up to make bids. It is early, especially in the case of Tyco. But if they don’t, investors should take that message seriously.
The bigger lessons are clear: Breakups don’t create financial magic. The kingdoms’ emperors couldn’t create alchemy when they built them up and they can’t create any when they break them down.
James B. Stewart of Smartmoney also notes the market’s poor reaction to the Tyco (TYC) breakup. However, Stewart believes Time-Warner (NYSE:TWX) is a better case for a spinoff. However he is not optimistic that this sort of short term thinking on the part of management is necessarily the best outcome for shareholders.
TYC 1-yr chart:
CD 1-yr chart: