Xerox Corp. (NYSE: XRX) announced plans Friday to split itself into two companies and give three board seats to activist investor Carl Icahn, reversing an effort by the century-old company to marry business services with its copiers and printers.
The split unravels Xerox’s biggest ever acquisition, the 2010 purchase of Affiliated Computer Services Inc. for about $6 billion, which pushed Xerox deeper into providing bill processing, managing call centers and other back-office services to government agencies and corporations. The split would follow a similar move by rival Hewlett-Packard Co. last fall.
As part of the move, billionaire Mr. Icahn will get three seats on the services company’s board. Mr. Icahn in November disclosed a stake in Xerox and said he would seek talks with the company about its future. With an 8.1% stake in the company, Mr. Icahn’s hedge fund is now the second-largest shareholder after index giant Vanguard Group.
In a filing Friday, Mr. Icahn disclosed that he had boosted his holding in the company by an additional 10 million shares, raising his stake to 9.12% of the company, or 92.4 million shares, from the 8.13% reported Dec. 14.
Mr. Icahn has had several successful engagements with companies in the midst of breaking up in recent years, including at eBay Inc., Manitowoc Co. and Gannett Co. Whether this time will make another success for this hedge fund manager like what he did for AIG in the same month still need time to discover.