On2 Technologies' shareholders have filed suit in Delaware and New York to block Google's $106.5 million purchase of video compression maker On2. The plaintiffs claim On2 did not shop On2 to other companies to get the best price. On2 CEO Matt Frost promises to fight the suits. Google remains silent on the brouhaha.
Shareholders for On2 Technologies have filed suit to
block Google's $106.5 million bid to buy the video compression software maker
because they are unhappy with the purchase price and certain agreements On2
executives made with Google during negotiations.
Google agreed to buy On2
Aug. 5 to shore up its video technology offerings. On2's Video
software compresses video in more than 2 billion desktop computers and mobile
devices worldwide for such companies as Adobe, Skype, Nokia, Sun
Microsystems, Sony and Brightcove. The deal is expected to close in the fourth
quarter this year.
The New York Post, which broke the news Aug. 12
, said investors
filed separate lawsuits in New York and Delaware courts against Google and On2 claiming
Google's offer undervalues On2. The Delaware suit alleges On2's board agreed to
"no shop" and "standstill" provisions that prohibit On2
from looking for other buyers or considering higher offers, the Post said.
Amid these accusations, On2 shareholders are seeking
class-action status and a permanent injunction against the deal, as well as punitive damages.
Google declined eWEEK's request for comment. On2 CEO Matt Frost addressed and vowed to fight the legal actions in an 8-K
filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission Aug. 12. Frost wrote
complaints generally allege, among other things, that the members of the
Company's board of directors breached their fiduciary duties to the stockholders
of the Company in connection with negotiating and entering into the previously
disclosed merger agreement with Google Inc. ("Google"), and that
Google and the Company aided and abetted in such alleged breaches of the
directors' duties. Both complaints seek, among other things, declaratory and
injunctive relief and the Delaware complaint also seeks damages in an
unspecified amount. The Company believes that these claims are without merit
and intends to vigorously contest such allegations."
On the surface, the terms of the deal appear generous. Google
offered to convert each outstanding share of On2 common stock into 60 cents'
worth of Google class A common stock, a 57 percent premium over the 38 cent
closing price of On2's stock on Aug. 4.
However, shareholders and other experts believe On2's
paltry stock price, and by extension Google's offer, don't reflect the value of
the company's technology.
On2 makes a series of video compression codecs and other
video technologies used by hundreds of businesses. On2's latest compression
codec, VP8, is noticeably better than rival compression technology H.264 in
this side-by-side comparison
Google's bid last Wednesday was followed a day later by a
contentious On2 earnings call, where On2 investors chastised management
for agreeing to sell the company and threatened to file
More foreshadowing of legal action followed Friday. Responding
to an eWEEK story
about what Google would do with On2's technology, K2J wrote Aug. 8:
"VP8 is better than h.264 yet Google will pay only
$106 million????... I am in contact with many ONT shareholders who are very
unhappy with this deal. There are already lawsuits being filed against the ONT
board for trying to give away the company. Shareholders must vote on the deal
to approve and it is unlikely they will approve it at the current price."
The investors filed suit in Delaware Chancery Court and
in a New York Supreme Court Monday.
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