Flip-Over Poison Pill

Flip-Over Poison Pill refers to the defense strategy used by the companies in order to prevent them from the hostile takeover and under this the shareholders of the company under the target are allowed to buy the acquiring company’s shares at a discount with the main motive of combating the unwanted attempts of the takeover.

What is Flip-Over Poison Pill?

Flip-Over Poison Pill is a defensive strategy that enables shareholders to purchase shares in an acquiring company at a highly discounted price. It gets triggered when a hostile bid is successful, and strategy is commonly used to combat unwanted takeover attempts. If the technique is adopted and the acquisition turns successful, the target firms’ shareholders will dilute the equity of the shareholders in the acquiring firm.

Shareholders have rights attached to their shares, whereby all shareholders accept the acquiring firm can pay to exercise their rights. They receive a specific value of the acquiring company’s shares at market priceMarket PriceMarket price refers to the current price prevailing in the market at which goods, services, or assets are purchased or sold. The price point at which the supply of a commodity matches its demand in the market becomes its market price.read more on the transaction date. Typically it’s double the exercise price, giving the same two-for-one deal in a flip-in but with the acquiring company’s stock instead.

Flip-Over Poison Pill

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Strengths of Flip-Over Poison Pill

As flip-over is a poison pillPoison PillPoison pill is a psychologically based defensive strategy that protects minority shareholders from an unprecedented takeover or hostile management change by increasing the cost of acquisition to a very high level and creating disincentives if a takeover or management changes happen in order to alter the decision maker’s mind.read more strategy, below are some of the benefits which are may also be common to other similar practices as well:

  • They are effective deterrents against hostile takeovers
  • There is room for bargaining leverage, and boards can choose not to enact such a strategy if the acquiring company is offering a high enough bid or meeting conditions of the target firm.
  • Extending the above point, target firms can get around 10-20% more from acquiring firms if a flip-over or similar strategy is in place.
  • Boards also buy some time to find a “white knight” or strategies that can benefit the target company.

Weakness of Flip-Over Poison Pill

Similar to the strengths, certain drawbacks are also applicable:

Execution of Flip-Over Poison Pill

As per this strategy, each right represents the conditional right to acquire shares of common stock of the hostile bidder at a discounted price. Once the event is triggered, the rights would detach from the shares, becoming freely transferable. However, at that point, the rights would not be significant. It’s only if the acquirer was to attempt a merger/similar transaction would the rights issue be of importance. The rights holder can purchase the shares of the acquirer at half price.  Specifically, the rights holder would be entitled to pay the exercise priceExercise PriceExercise price or strike price refers to the price at which the underlying stock is purchased or sold by the persons trading in the options of calls & puts available in the derivative trading. Thus, the exercise price is a term used in the derivative market.read more and receive in return the shares of the acquirer’s common stock with twice the market value.

  • A flip-over poison pill is designed to provide additional compensation to the shareholders of the target company at the expense of the acquirer.
  • It also has the effect of impeding the ability of a hostile bidder to acquire the target firm like a leveraged buy-out.

The most stinging effect, though, is that it can threaten the status of controlling shareholders or the acquirer. It is because flip-over will not dilute the acquirer’s interest in the target company but instead interest the acquirer’s shareholders in the acquirer.

The acquirer would be required to issue many additional shares to shareholders of the target company, and even a 100% owner can easily find themselves in the minority. The controlling shareholder may be unwilling to cause a threat to their status, causing the acquirer to forego the acquisition.

It’s also suggested that the flip-over poison pill is effective only if the acquirer insists on a merger or similar transaction post-implementation of flip-over. If the acquirer insists on maintaining a controlling stake in the target firm, no protection is offered since:

  • The dilutive effect of the flip-over rights is only triggered by a second step merger or business combination or
  • A bidder willing to forego such a transaction can avoid negative consequences associated with the rights.

Example of Flip-Over Poison Pill

One of the popular instances was in 1985 when Sir James Goldsmith (Anglo-French financier, politician, and business tycoon) attempted to acquire Crown Zellerbach Corporation (an American Paper ConglomerateConglomerateA conglomerate is a company or corporation made up of different businesses that operate in various industries or sectors, often unrelated. It holds a stake in multiple smaller companies that choose to manage their business separately to avoid the risk of being in a single market, thus, taking advantage of diversification.read more based out of San Francisco, California). He faced a flip-over poison pill in which Sir Goldsmith attempted to acquire the firm. While he could not proceed with the merger transaction, he successfully obtained a controlling stake in Crown Zellerbach. As the goal of flip-over is to shield unwanted acquisition, the strategy was proven to be a failure.


The flip-over poison pill strategy has been designed to make the transaction unattractive to the acquirer until they either end the deal or are compelled to negotiate terms with the Board of Directors. This strategy is only used by firms that have adopted the bylaw.

If the poison pill were triggered, the flip-in rights would work for the benefit of the shareholders. However, Right holders also would retain the right to wait for a squeeze-out merger and to exercise their rights in exchange for shares of the acquirer’s common stock.

This article has been a guide Flip-Over Poison Pill. Here we discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the flip-over and also the execution of the flip-over pill along with examples. You may also take a look at the following articles:-

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