Signage is displayed on the exterior of Xerox Corp. headquarters in Norwalk, Connecticut, U.S. (Photographer: Michael Nagle/Bloomberg)

Xerox Investor Deason Wants Auction ASAP, Talking to PE Firms

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(Bloomberg) -- Xerox Corp. investors Darwin Deason and Carl Icahn want to start an auction for the embattled printer company as soon as possible, and have already had talks with several private equity firms about a potential deal.

In an exclusive interview on Bloomberg TV, Deason said that the company’s new chief executive officer, John Visentin, is going to immediately start the auction for Xerox “to make sure anyone who has any interest in buying this company has the opportunity to look at it and has a fair opportunity to look at it -- including Fuji.”

“We’re gonna market this company as best we can,” Deason said.

The investor, who with Icahn owns about 13 percent of Xerox, said the company is having conversations with several private equity firms about a potential deal. He also said that cutting a new deal with Fujifilm Holdings Corp.could be “the very best thing to do.”

A spokesman for Xerox didn’t immediately respond to voicemail and email messages seeking comment.

After waging a months-long campaign against Xerox’s agreement to sell to Fujifilm for $6.1 billion, Deason and Icahn prevailed on Sunday, when the U.S. office equipment supplier said it would pull out of the deal and replace its CEO, Jeff Jacobson.

Xerox fell as much as 10 percent Monday, closing down 4.3 percent to $28.87.

Deason had sued Xerox in February to block the proposal, accusing Jacobson of acting without authorization to strike a deal that preserved his job at shareholders’ expense. The lawsuit also claimed that the company’s board breached its fiduciary duties. Deason said a U.S. court decision to block the takeover with an injunction was a “landmark” for shareholder rights.

“It’s going to help shareholders, I think, all over the country,” he said.

Deason, who said he’d worked on about 300 deals over his career, said that the saga over the Xerox-Fujifilm transaction has “virtually everything.”

“Crown jewel lockups, conflict, international intrigue,” Deason said. “It’s like a big mystery novel.”

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