Goodbye Moto

Instead of one big sucky company, we’ll now have two!

Motorola said Wednesday that it would split itself into two publicly traded companies as it struggles to boost its stock price and faces pressure from activist investor Carl C. Icahn.
Motorola said in a statement that it would separate its flagging cellphone unit from its broadband and mobility operations, which encompasses the servicing of wireless networks and the building of television set-top boxes. Motorola shareholders would receive stock in both companies.
“Creating two industry-leading companies will provide improved flexibility, more tailored capital structures, and increased management focus – as well as more targeted investment opportunities for our shareholders,” Gregory Q. Brown, Motorola’s chief executive, said in a statement.
Motorola said in January that it was considering a break-up as its stock has plunged 45 percent over the past year. Despite the success of its Razr cellphone, Motorola has lost market share to rivals like Nokia, Samsung and Apple.
It has also faced increasing pressure from Mr. Icahn, its second-largest shareholder. The activist investor recently sued Motorola to gain access to documents related to its board’s discussions about its cellphone business.
Mr. Icahn, who holds about 6.3 percent of Motorola shares, is also seeking four seats on the company’s board.

This makes some sense as the company’s stock has also split itself in two. I really don’t see the value of doing this. I’m always suspicious of the phrase “unlocking shareholder value.” The problem is, there has to be shareholder value in the first place that can be unlocked.
One of the reasons for the breakup, given by CEO Gregory Brown, was that the two separate units would benefit from increased focus from management. Why couldn’t they effectively manage both?

Posted by on March 26th, 2008 at 10:27 am

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