Online Minerals Merger Mayhem…

posted by Brendan Hodgson

Molson Coors, AT&T, and Oracle did it. Ferrovial, BASF, Arcelor and Mittal are doing it. And in Canada, the use of dedicated bid sites, or bid-specific sections of corporate web sites, to target and channel information to win the hearts and minds of shareholders is now rampant in the hot and, increasingly hostile, minerals sector.

Here’s the dilly. Canadian-based Inco makes a friendly offer for Falconbridge, another Canadian-based copper and nickel company. To support its communication of the merits of the bid, Inco launches a transaction-specific site here. Swiss-based Xstrata, not to be outdone, launches its own hostile bid for Falconbridge, of which it is a minority owner, and proceeds to make its case for its bid here. Falconbridge, upon review of the Xstrata offer, re-affirms its support for Inco, and ensures that it’s own shareholders can read about that bid by including a link to the Inco site from its home page. Then along comes Teck Comminco, another Canadian firm, who for a variety of reasons decides to make a hostile offer for Inco, the company that started the whole thing in the first place and who is trying to fend off Xstrata in order to wed Falconbridge. To support its bid for Inco, Teck yesterday launches its own bid site here.

Amidst the brouhaha is the clear realization that the web has become an increasingly powerful and essential tool for reaching out and communicating directly to shareholders and influencers during times of critical change. Not only do dedicated transaction sites help bridge the divide between an organization and the shareholders to whom it has a responsibility to communicate, they enhance the communication function by separating transaction-specific information from the day-to-day marketing and IR functions.

Where then next? Like Oracle and others before it… and once the dust settles… using the web to communicate what happens after the honeymoon is over.  


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