Pharmacy Operator Plans 'Poison Pill' Defense

Syncor International Corp., a Chatsworth operator of high-tech pharmacy service centers, said it adopted a shareholder rights plan--a common takeover defense often referred to as a "poison pill." The company said the plan is designed to ensure that its stockholders get a fair price for their shares should the company be the target of a hostile takeover attempt. But it said the move was not in response to any specific takeover threat.

Gene McGrevin, Syncor's president and chief executive officer, said under the plan, shareholders would receive one "right" for each share owned. If a party acquires 20% or more of Syncor's shares without the consent of the company's board of directors, each right would give the holder the option to buy a Syncor share at half its market price.

In September, Syncor received an unsolicited, $77-million buyout bid from the Lisle, Ill.-based investment banking firm Van Kampen Merritt, which said it made the offer on behalf of a client identified only as OSW Funding. Syncor rejected the bid, which expired a few days after it was offered. ICN Pharmaceuticals of Costa Mesa, which owns 8% of Syncor's stock, has also been rumored as a possible suitor.

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