Xerox to split into two companies, Icahn to get board seats on one

Xerox Corp will split into two companies, one holding its legacy printer operations and the other its business process outsourcing unit, it said on Friday, in a bid to be more nimble after years of trying to integrate the businesses.

Activist investor Carl Icahn, who first revealed a stake in Xerox in November, will get three board seats on the outsourcing company. He tweeted on Friday that “the separation will greatly enhance value for Xerox Corp shareholders.”

Xerox shares rose nearly 6 percent to $9.78. Xerox Chief Executive Officer Ursula Burns said in an interview on Friday that the strategic review had been underway before Icahn publicly revealed he had bought Xerox shares.

“The reason why it was easy to get to a decision is because we do have two businesses that rotate around two different axes,” Burns said.

Xerox also posted fourth-quarter results, with profit rising 42.5 percent and costs and expenses falling 7.3 percent.

The company, whose shares had fallen more than 30 percent in the past 12 months, has tried to turn itself around by focusing on software and services as customers cut printing costs. The document technology company, which will make printers and copiers, will have annual revenue of $11 billion, while the business process outsourcing company will have $7 billion in revenue.

Regarding the two companies potentially attracting interest from buyers, Burns acknowledged that Xerox’s board and executives would speak to anyone interested.

“They are both strong and both large companies. But this would not be a small buy at $11 billion and $7 billion,” she said.

Susquehanna Financial Group LLP analyst James Friedman said he thinks Xerox’s services business once it separates is “an easy acquisition for someone but they will try and grow it themselves.” Xerox had been trying to turn itself around, shifting focus to software and services as corporate customers cut printing costs and consumers shift to mobile devices. Burns, who took the helm in 2009, said on Friday the leadership and names of the new companies were yet to be decided. Xerox also increased its quarterly dividend 11 percent to 7.75 cents per share, payable on April 29 to shareholders of record on March 31.

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