What Is an Unsolicited Bid?

An unsolicited bid is an offer made by an individual, investors, or a company to purchase a company that is not actively seeking a buyer. Unsolicited bids may sometimes be referred to as hostile bids if the target company doesn't want to be acquired. They usually come up when a potential acquirer sees value in the target company.

Unsolicited Bid Explained

An unsolicited bid comes about when a potential acquirer takes an interest in a target company and makes a bid to purchase it. In this case, the bid is the result of the acquirer's initiative rather than at the request of the bid-upon company.

An unsolicited bid to purchase a company not intending to be sold may be followed by other unsolicited bids as the news travels. These other bids may up the purchase price and start a bidding war or takeover fight.

While unsolicited bids may involve private companies, many bids are made by publicly-traded companies. These kinds of bids were popular in the 1980s, when many bidders recognized the potential for profit in undervalued companies or those that were mismanaged.

$202 billion

The amount Vodafone paid for Germany's Mannesmann in 2000 after its original unsolicited offer was rejected. This is said to be one of the world's largest acquisitions.

Unsolicited Versus Solicited Bid

An unsolicited bid may come as a surprise to the target, while a solicited bid is the opposite. With a solicited bid, the target is actively seeking a purchaser and wants to be purchased. These kinds of bids are often called friendly takeovers, or proposals that are approved by the management of both companies.

Why Do Companies Make Unsolicited Bids?

Unsolicited bidding can occur when a company wants to purchase another company in order to:

  • Control its market share.
  • Profit from its expected growth.
  • Have access to proprietary technology.
  • Limit competitors from taking advantage of these situations.
  • Buy the target company and break it up.

How to Avoid or Fight off an Unsolicited Bid

A vulnerable company may have several mechanisms with which to defend itself if it becomes the target of an unsolicited offer or, ultimately, a hostile takeover. First, it can reject the offer outright. If that doesn't work, there is the people poison pill defense, where the management of the target company threatens to resign in the event of a takeover. This would force the acquirer to assemble a new management team if the acquisition was successful, which may be costly.

Another defense mechanism is the poison pill, where shareholders buy more company stock at a discount, thereby raising the number of shares the bidder will have to purchase to realize the unsolicited bid. Another way to avoid being a target is to set up an employee stock ownership plan, which would allow employees to buy shares in the company, thereby giving them the ability to vote alongside management about important decisions involving the company.

Key Takeaways

  • An unsolicited bid is made to purchase a company not actively seeking a buyer.
  • Unsolicited bids are also referred to as hostile takeovers.
  • Companies make unsolicited bids to control market share, increase profits, and/or limit competition.
  • A company may reject the offer or set up an employee stock ownership plan to avoid being the target of an unsolicited bid.

Real World Example of an Unsolicited Bid

In 2018, Lundin Mining, a Canadian mining company, made several unsolicited offers to purchase fellow miner Nevsun Resources. The final offer, made in July, was for a total of $1.4 billion CAD in a proposed all-cash deal. The deal was abandoned when another miner, China's Zijin Mining, made a competitive bid for Nevsun in the amount of $1.86 billion CAD.

Both companies pursued Nevsun because of the time it would take for its Timok copper-gold project in Serbia to come online. Lundin abandoned its bid for Nevsun after deciding not to increase its offer, while Zijin's bid was successful.