September 22, 2023

Business Briefing | Legal News: Comcast Chief to Pay Penalty on Stock Purchase

Comcast’s chief executive, Brian L. Roberts, will pay a $500,000 civil penalty for failing to notify antitrust authorities before acquiring voting securities as part of his compensation package, the Justice Department said. According to the complaint, Mr. Roberts failed to notify regulators before acquiring voting securities of Comcast as part of his compensation beginning in October 2007. This resulted in his holding about $120 million of Comcast stock. Mr. Roberts’s total compensation in 2010 was just over $31 million. He controls a third of Comcast’s voting stock and owns less than 2 percent of the company’s equity, according to a company filing. Comcast said the issue was a “technical and inadvertent violation that was self-reported, promptly corrected.”

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DealBook: Schneider Electric of France Begins Talks With Tyco

9:32 p.m. | Updated A French conglomerate, Schneider Electric, has begun takeover talks with Tyco International about a potential deal, according to people briefed on the matter, in what could be one of the biggest deals this year.

A sale of Tyco would bring a conclusion to a once-sprawling empire with a troubled history, including accounting scandals in the last decade that led to the convictions of its former chief executive, L. Dennis Kozlowski, and former chief financial officer, Mark H. Swartz.

The deal talks are an outgrowth of Schneider’s having studied potential acquisitions in the United States for several months. But the discussions are in early stages and may still fall apart, these people cautioned, speaking on the condition of anonymity because the talks were intended to be confidential.

Shares in Tyco have jumped 11 percent since Bloomberg News reported on Monday that Schneider was considering a bid for Tyco, closing on Tuesday at $52.33. That gives Tyco a market value of about $24.8 billion.

Shares in Schneider have fallen over 5 percent during the same time, closing at $163.09 on Tuesday. The company currently has a market value of $44.3 billion.

Representatives for Schneider and Tyco declined to comment.

Under Mr. Kozlowski, Tyco embarked on an aggressive buying spree. But Tyco began running up losses in a variety of operations, and Mr. Kozlowski later became embroiled in scandal over his compensation package, leading to a trial and his conviction.

Much of Tyco’s rehabilitation has been credited to the company’s chief executive, Edward D. Breen, who in 2007 broke Tyco up into three parts. Mr. Breen took the helm of Tyco International, which focuses on security services, fire protection and systems for water pipes and valves.

Tyco reported $17.2 billion in revenue and $1.5 billion in net income for the 12 months ended Dec. 24. But according to analysts, the company is largely undervalued by investors because of its diverse mix of businesses, making the company a potential takeover target.

“Tyco presents a very attractive mix of assets, many of which enjoy market leading positions,” analysts at FBR Capital Markets wrote in a research note on Tuesday.

The biggest of Tyco’s divisions is security, which includes ADT and is the largest security services business in the country.

Tyco’s securities and fire protection units could help Schneider expand its building services business in North America, analysts at JPMorgan Chase wrote in a research note on Monday.

Less clear is what would happen with Tyco’s water flow business, which operates largely independent of the company’s other divisions. The JPMorgan analysts wrote in their note that Schneider may spin off the unit as part of a deal.

Chris V. Nicholson contributed reporting from Paris.

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