In brief: Xerox's attempt to acquire HP has been rejected by the latter's board of directors, but a deal could still take place in the future if Xerox hands over due diligence information about its business.
Earlier this month, HP Inc., which is separate from Hewlett Packard Enterprise after the company split a few years ago, confirmed that Xerox Holdings had made a takeover offer for a "potential business combination." Xerox had offered to buy HP for $22 per share, or $33.5 billion. This is despite Xerox's market capitalization being about $8 billion, while HP Inc.'s is just under $30 billion.
In a letter from HP's board to Xerox CEO John Visentin, it's stated that the offer "significantly undervalues HP and isn't in the best interest of HP shareholders." The letter also notes that Xerox would have to take on a large amount of debt to complete the deal.
"In reaching this determination, the Board also considered the highly conditional and uncertain nature of the proposal, including the potential impact of outsized debt levels on the combined company's stock," the board wrote.
HP didn't kill off the move completely, leaving the possibility of a deal on the table. "We recognize the potential benefits of consolidation, and we are open to exploring whether there is value to be created for HP shareholders through a potential combination with Xerox. However, as we have previously shared in connection with our prior requests for diligence, we have fundamental questions that need to be addressed in our diligence of Xerox," it wrote.
As the world increasingly moves away from printed documents, which the companies specialize in, and toward digital versions, both firms have been struggling lately. HP is set to lay off 16 percent of its workforce, or 9,000 people, by the end of 2022, while Xerox has started a $640 million cost-cutting initiative. Should a deal eventually go through, it will likely benefit both organizations.