What is 'Tender Offer'

A tender offer is an offer to purchase some or all of shareholders' shares in a corporation. The price offered is usually at a premium to the market price.  Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) laws require any corporation or individual acquiring 5% of a company to disclose information to the SEC, the target company, and the exchange.

BREAKING DOWN 'Tender Offer'

A tender offer often occurs when an investor proposes buying shares from every shareholder of a publicly traded company for a certain price at a certain time. The investor normally offers a higher price per share than the company’s stock price, providing shareholders a greater incentive to sell their shares. For example, Company A has a current stock price of $10 per share.  An investor, seeking to gain control of the corporation, submits a tender offer of $12 per share with the condition that he acquires at least 51% of the shares.  In corporate finance, a tender offer is often called a takeover bid as the investor seeks to take over control of the corporation.

Examples of a Tender Offer

A publicly traded company issues a tender offer to buy back its own outstanding securities. A privately or publicly traded company executes a tender offer directly to shareholders without the board of directors’ (BOD) consent, resulting in a hostile takeover.

Acquirers include hedge funds, private equity firms, management-led investor groups, and other companies. The day after the announcement, a target company’s shares trade below or at a discount to the offer price, which is attributed to the uncertainty of and time needed for the offer.  As the closing date nears and issues are resolved, the spread typically narrows. 

Advantages of a Tender Offer

Tender offers provide several advantages to investors.  For example, investors are not obligated to buy shares until a set number are tendered, which eliminates large upfront cash outlays and prevents investors from liquidating stock positions if offers fail. Acquirers can also include escape clauses, releasing liability for buying shares. For example, if the government rejects a proposed acquisition citing anti-trust violations, the acquirer can refuse to buy tendered shares.

In many instances, investors gain control of target companies in less than one month if shareholders accept their offers; they also generally earn more than normal investments in the stock market.

Disadvantages of a Tender Offer

Although tender offers provide many benefits, there are some noted disadvantages.  A tender offer is an expensive way to complete a hostile takeover as investors pay SEC filing fees, attorney costs, and other fees for specialized services. It can be a time-consuming process as depository banks verify tendered shares and issue payments on behalf of the investor. Also, if other investors become involved in a hostile takeover, the offer price increases, and because there are no guarantees, the investor may lose money on the deal.

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