Cold feet could be costly

August 26, 2008

antenna.jpgThe spate of private equity deals falling apart after the buyer got cold feet has slowed to a trickle. But one recent buyers’ remorse is noteworthy if only for the unusually large break-up fee.

Gilat, an Israel-based technology company which makes satellite-based communications networks, struck a deal in March to be bought by a consortium of private equity investors including Gores Group for $11.40 a share, or $475 million.

Monday, that looked dicey after Gilat put out an announcement saying that the buyers made a number of new verbal proposals which “were substantially different from the definitive agreement”.

“These proposals were rejected by the Company’s board of directors after finding they were not in the best interest of the Company’s shareholders,” the statement read. “The company has informed the purchasers that they have 72 hours (ie Wednesday) to complete the definitive merger agreement. If the conditions are not met, Gilat shall seek all remedies at its disposal including legal action.”

What those proposals are is difficult to say because Gores as yet has made no announcement giving its side of the story. A call to Los Angeles-based Gores was not immediately returned.

If the private equity consortium ends up having to pay the termination fee, which Gilat says is $47.3 million, it will be a bitter pill to swallow — adding up to about 10 percent of the total deal price — substantially higher than the typical 2-3 percent.

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