Controversial Darwin Deason Wants To Take ACS Private

He's teaming up with Cerberus Capital Management in an effort to acquire all outstanding shares of ACS.

Paul McDougall, Editor At Large, InformationWeek

March 20, 2007

2 Min Read

Darwin Deason may have found a way to beat the Wall Street watchdogs that have long eyeballed operations at his Dallas-based Affiliated Computer Services outsourcing company. He's offered to take ACS private.

Deason said he's teaming up with Cerberus Capital Management in an effort to acquire all outstanding shares of ACS, according to a document filed Tuesday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Cerberus and Deason, who owns a 203-foot yacht called Apogee and who was featured in a D Magazine article called Lifestyles of The Rich And Shameless, are offering $59.25 per share for all outstanding ACS shares.

According to the filing, an earlier offer by Deason, ACS's founder and chairman, and Cerberus to buy out the company for $56.00 per share was rejected outright by the board. Shares of ACS were up about 17% to $59.90 in mid-day trading Tuesday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Taking ACS private would allow Deason to escape the SEC's spotlight. In recent months, regulators have focused on ACS's handling of executive stock options. In November, ACS CEO Mark King and CFO Warren Edwards stepped down after the company conceded that their options had been improperly backdated.

Last year, Canadian prosecutors in Alberta charged ACS with bribing police officers there to secure help winning a contract to provide the province with photo radar traffic enforcement systems. Two Canadian police officers were also charged.

Questions have also been raised about a deal under which ACS leased a corporate jet from a leasing company owned by Deason.

Despite it all, ACS has managed to maintain a solid outsourcing business in recent years, pulling in key customers in both the private and public sectors. Earlier this month, the company inked a five-year deal to manage a retirement plan for Allied Waste Industries. It also topped Global Services magazine's list of the 100 best performing managed services outsourcers.

In Tuesday's SEC filing, Deason said taking ACS private "is in the best interests of the company." He also implied that he would welcome a break from the regulatory glare. "With so much current attention on both the company and me, we are each subject to heightened scrutiny," said Deason.

Deason said he hopes that a deal to take ACS private can be reached by May.

About the Author(s)

Paul McDougall

Editor At Large, InformationWeek

Paul McDougall is a former editor for InformationWeek.

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