Business

Carl Icahn's $3 billion Oshkosh bid rejected as 'low-ball price'

New ProductsJLG Industries IncorporatedCarl Icahn

Specialty truck maker Oshkosh Corp. rejected a takeover bid by billionaire activist investor Carl Icahn, calling the $32.50-a-share offer “unsolicited, inadequate, highly conditional and opportunistic.”

The Wisconsin company’s board said Friday that it had unanimously turned down the nearly $3 billion pitch in which Icahn, the business’ largest shareholder, would pick up all outstanding common shares.

In a letter, Oshkosh urged other stakeholders to snub the offer, which it called a “low-ball price.”

Chairman Richard M. Donnelly said the effort, launched earlier this month, was “yet another attempt by Mr. Icahn to enrich himself at the expense of all other Oshkosh shareholders.”

Last year, shareholders struck down a proxy contest from the business magnate, rebuffing a list of replacement board candidates and voting against a proposed merger with rival Navistar.

This time around, the board said it is also readying a so-called “poison pill” defense against “unfair or coercive takeover tactics.” The strategy, recently employed by Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Inc., waters down the value of the bidder’s share.

In an open note earlier this week, Icahn noted that Oshkosh’s share price is down compared with five years ago and said that, to his “dismay,” the company has continued “to over-promise and under deliver.” He wants to spin off Oshkosh’s JLG Industries brand, which manufactures construction lift equipment.

But Chief Executive Charles L. Szews said in a statement that Oshkosh has a revival in store and expects “compelling growth…in the market recovery.”

Also Friday, the truck maker said its net income in the fourth quarter more than doubled to $78.9 million, or 86 cents a share, from $37.5 million, or 41 cents a share during the year-earlier period.

During the quarter, which ended Sept. 30, Oshkosh’s revenue slid 2% to $2.06 billion from $2.11 billion. Sales of fire and emergency trucks boomed 14.3%, but revenue from the company’s defense segment plunged 18.6%.

The company’s stock rose as much as 3.5% in morning trading to $30.77 a share.

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Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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