Big Ventana owners could nix deal

The Roche-Ventana merger isn't as wrapped up as it might appear. According to Forbes, Ventana's board approved Roche's offer over the objections of Chairman Jack Schuler and Vice Chairman John Patience. Those two haven't agreed to sell their shares, and together they own about 12 percent of the company.

Meanwhile, the Oracle Partners hedge fund owns another 8 percent, and fund manager Larry Feinberg says his strategy has always been to stick with Schuler and Patience, who he calls "the brains behind the board." Feinberg also thinks Roche's latest $89.50-per-share offer is still too low; he says he doesn't want to sell for under $100.

The rest of Ventana management and board members don't individually own even 1 percent of the stock. Other big shareholders include Citadel Investment Group and Westfield Capital Management, firms that--according to Feinberg--have the guts to reject the deal if they don't like it.

Roche says it's confident the deal will get done. And it's true that Ventana's board and top management are pushing for it. We'll see how determined the holdouts prove to be.

- read the article from Forbes

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