Revenge, we’re sure, has no part in Asyst takeover spat

Asyst Technologies, the Fremont maker of equipment used to make chips and flat panel displays, finally went on the record today, confirming that its board “previously rejected unsolicited expressions of interest conveyed over the past several months from The Gores Group and Aquest Systems to explore purchasing the company for $5 to $6 per share.”

Aquest Systems, not coincidentally perhaps, is headed by Mihir Parikh, an Asyst founder and former chief executive who in 2003 alleged wrongful termination from the company and discrimination “based on age, race and national origin,” as well as fraud, deceit, and defamation. He sought damages of more than $5 million but settled the matter later that year for $1.3 million.

Not that Parikh’s involvement in the deal had anything to do with Asyst’s rejection of it. The company said that a review by its advisers, including Merrill Lynch and Baker & McKenzie, led it to conclude that the offer was “inadequate, significantly undervalued the company and would not be in the best interests of the company’s shareholders.”

The “expressions of interest,” said Asyst in a press release today, appears “to be an
attempt to capitalize on a low point in the semiconductor equipment cycle and a current low market valuation to the detriment of the company’s shareholders.”

After hitting a high of $7.40 last year, shares of Asyst hit a 52-week low of $2.46 Jan. 23. They jumped 31 percent February 19 after rumors of the offer and Asyst’s reported rejection of it were first published, and they rose another 14 percent Monday when the two private equity firms issued a release confirming the offer.

The shares fell today 26 cents, or 6.5 percent, to $3.74.


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