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Technology M&As may cost speculators more than $1 bn
April, 28th 2011

Lawson Software's agreement to sell itself for about $1.9 billion wiped out $175 million for investors who had speculated a higher offer was on the way.

Lawson, which counts billionaire Carl Icahn as one of its biggest shareholders, agreed to be acquired by Golden Gate Capital and Infor for $11.25 a share on Tuesday, 10% below the nine-year high reached this month after the parties had disclosed they were in talks, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

While Lawson said it searched for better offers and found none, bets on a superior bid had left the stock trading at $12.13 the day before the deal was announced. With companies from Tenet Healthcare to Cephalon and NYSE Euronext trading a combined $947 million above their takeover prices after the pace of worldwide deals climbed 22% this year, some speculators projecting sweetened bids may be disappointed.

Equinox Minerals already lost C$229 million ($241 million) in value after investors incorrectly bet that China's Minmetals Resources would counter Barrick Gold Corp's $7.6 billion takeover. "It's a dangerous game," said Peter Lobravico, New Yorkbased vice president of merger arbitrage trading and sales at Wall Street Access.

"You're not always going to get another bidder to step in. It is healthy for the arb community to have some reminder that there is risk in risk arbitrage." Terry Blake, a spokesman for St. Paul, Minnesota-based Lawson, declined to comment.

Private-equity firm Golden Gate and Alpharetta, Georgiabased Infor, which makes software used by manufacturers and distributors, are paying almost $1.9 billion, excluding net cash, to acquire Lawson's healthcare software, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

Lawson's stock was driven higher in the last month by speculation Oracle may be interested in a takeover after Lawson disclosed March 11 that it was in talks with San Francisco-based Golden Gate and Infor about an unsolicited $11.25-a-share proposal.

Oracle not bidding may signal the second-largest seller of business applications software is exploring a bigger deal, said Richard Williams, an analyst at Cross Research.

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