A British investment firm's bizarre takeover bid for Avon, which made stocks go wild yesterday, appears to have been a giant hoax
Before noon in New York on Thursday, a firm called PTG Capital Partners reported in an online regulatory filing that it was offering to buy Avon for $18.75 (£11.90)a share. At that price, the deal would be worth $8.2 billion (£5.2 billion). Shares of the cosmetic company were trading at about $6.60 (£4.19) ahead of the announcement.
Shares of Avon shot up as much as 19% following the purported takeover bid, however, several oddities in the filing immediately raised suspicion about its legitimacy.Business Insider's Akin Oyedele noted that in the filing's about section, PTG Partners referred to itself as "TPG Partners," a large private equity firm that does not appear to be affiliated with PTG. There were also spacing issues and a typo.
After the frenzy on Thursday, Avon issued a statement to Business Insider that it had not received "any offer or other communication" from PTG and that it was not able to confirm the firm's existence.
The Security Exchange Commission, now investigating the offer, will be looking into whether the supposedly fake takeover bid was an attempt to manipulate the market, a person familiar with the matter told The New York Times.
The Times points out that a similar incident occurred in 2012, when a takeover offer for Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory was filed by a firm called PST Capital Partners, also supposedly British. That bid turned out to be fake.
Both events should raise concerns about how filings are made to the SEC's online database, known as Edgar, and what filters are in place to ensure that documents are credible, the Times said.
"Investors and traders assume that Edgar is accurate because it is associated with the SEC," University of Michigan professor Erik Gordon, told the Times. "The SEC will have to reconsider what lengths it should go to in order to provide a high level of assurance that filings are real."