IF THE BOARD won’t agree, try the shareholders directly. After nearly a year of advances, on March 2nd Xerox made a formal tender offer for HP, a much bigger rival computer-and-printer-maker. It is willing to pay HP’s shareholders $24 a share, valuing the company at $35bn. That is a third higher than its market capitalisation before Xerox made its intentions clear in November—and five times that of Xerox itself.
Both firms are Silicon Valley royalty, left behind by the pace of a technological revolution they did much to shape. Xerox—particularly its fabled Palo Alto Research Centre—helped invent photocopying, laser printing, desktop computers and the “graphical user interfaces” that everyone now takes for granted. A plaque commemorates the garage where Bill Hewlett and David Packard founded HP, with $538 of capital, as “the birthplace of Silicon Valley”.
These days Xerox’s printing business looks to be in long-term decline. The paperless office may be a pipe dream, but IDC, a research firm, forecasts that the number of pages the world prints each year will drop from around 3trn in 2017 to 2.6trn or so in 2023. Xerox’s revenues have fallen every quarter since 2016 bar one, year on year.
HP, too, has struggled in the smartphone age. Besides its own range of printers, it is the world’s second-largest seller of...
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