Don't expect any suitors to come knocking on
door anytime soon, despite speculation in some circles that the insurer might become a potential acquisition target.
Granted, the big life insurer and brokerage firm has the look of a potential buyout candidate. The stock is trading roughly $7 below its estimated $37-a-share book value, even though Prudential generated $302 million in net income in the most recent quarter.
But an imminent deal is unlikely. That's because any plan to acquire Prudential first would require the approval of the New Jersey Department of Insurance -- something that could make the Newark, N.J.-based firm a lot less attractive to a bigger financial-services conglomerate. The antitakeover provision was part of a deal with New Jersey that permitted Prudential to demutualize and take the company public in an initial public offering last December.
Under the deal, New Jersey insurance officials have another two years to put the kibosh on any buyout offer for Prudential. In fact, during that period, an outside investor can't acquire 5% or more of Prudential's stock without the prior approval of state insurance officials.
"When people look at this, they say it's a prohibition against a takeover, but that's not the case," said Bob DeFillippo, a Prudential spokesman. "It is a requirement."
Eric Berg, a Lehman Brothers insurance analyst, said it's not uncommon for states to impose limited antitakeover provisions on an insurer when it seeks permission to demutualize.
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