By Colin Kellaher
Activist investor Carl Icahn on Wednesday excoriated the board of HP for not engaging in merger talks with rival Xerox Corp. (XRX).
HP last month rejected a $33 billion takeover offer from Xerox as too low, and Xerox said it would take the $22-a-share bid directly to HP's shareholders after HP refused to engage in a due-diligence process.
In an open letter to HP shareholders, Mr. Icahn said he wonders if HP's refusal to engage "is simply a delay tactic aimed at attempting to preserve the lucrative positions of the CEO and members of the board."
The billionaire investor, who owns a 10.85% stake in Xerox and a 4.24% interest in HP, has previously called a union of the two companies a "no brainer."
Mr. Icahn urged HP's holders to join him in pressing the board to explore a deal, and he questioned the Palo Alto, Calif., company's plans to go it alone.
"I cannot believe that the recalcitrance of HP's board is driven by any real confidence in its standalone restructuring plan, which the market, shareholders and analysts met with extreme indifference and which seems to amount to little more than rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," Mr. Icahn said.
HP representatives couldn't immediately be reached for comment.
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