CSC: No comment is the safest

I was rather surprised yesterday to see an e-mail from Ogilvy PR pitching an interview with Dave Booth, the Chairman President of Global Sales and Marketing at Computer Sciences Corp, only a couple of hours after Xerox announced its $6.4 billion planned purchase of Affiliated Computer Services.

After all, CSC — an IT services company that competes with ACS, and has a market value of $8.1 billion — was the first company that came to bankers’ and analysts’ minds when I asked them who else could be in play, as tech companies look to buy into new growth opportunities.

Given how market sentiment works, any comments from the chief senior executive of a potential acquisition target like CSC could easily move the stock. As a rule, that’s why, companies typically don’t comment on rumor or speculation about themselves. So naturally, an on-the-record interview with the CSC chairman executive wasn’t something I could pass up.

The e-mail offered:

…(T)he opportunity to hear comments from Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC). As you might know, CSC is a marketplace contrarian that can offer a POV on the other side of the coin – staying independent.
CSC anticipates greater interest from those clients that value the objectivity of a technology-independent approach. With one less independent firm in the marketplace, CSC’s position is strengthened as a global, technology-independent option for clients.

I let Ogilvy know of my interest, and waited, and followed up, and waited. By the late afternoon, I figured the pitch was too good to be true because CSC had thought the better of it. Sure enough, the e-mail that eventually turned up in my inbox, said: “CSC now prefers not to comment.”

from Commentaries:

The guessing game ahead of Dell-Perot deal

Dell Perot puzzle pieceIn retrospect, it's easy to say we could have guessed it:

Why didn't some investors put 2+2 together and figure out that Perot Systems might be a target for Dell -- before that is, Dell announced its $3.9 billion cash deal to buy Perot.

Looking back at Perot's share performance, the stock has been building up momentum since July, despite warning of weak earnings in its August 4 quarterly report. The stock, which traded under $15 throughout the first half of the year, had built to $18 by last week. Perhaps this was early optimism about 2010 prospects. But the other explanation is some timely speculation that Perot was a logical target for fellow Texan company Dell.

Dell had made little secret of its plans to acquire computer services and software companies for months. Executives had dribbled out hints about what kind of targets it was after in the weeks and months leading up to the September 21 news.