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By | Kelly Fiveash 5th November 2007 13:31

Heads roll at ACS

Service co's shareholders left blowing in the wind

Outsourcing outfit Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) last week confirmed that five of its independent board members agreed to resign after an embarrassing public spat with the firm's founder and chairman.

Darwin Deason had verbally asked the five men to quit during a board meeting on 30 October, but they had initially refused to budge.

The directors then received a letter from Deason on 1 November who claimed that it was in the "best interest" of Dallas-based ACS for them to step down because they had lost shareholder support.

A statement was issued by ACS later the same day in which it confirmed the men had resigned from the firm.

The board row was ignited in March this year over differences of opinion on how ACS should best respond to a $6.1bn buy-out bid from private equity firm Cerberus Capital Management.

A special committee was set up by the board, which eventually dumped the bid on the premise that it was too low an offer.

In his letter, Deason claimed: "As of today, the board, despite its efforts, has failed to produce any other bidders or superior strategic alternatives, and the Cerberus offer is dead without the shareholders having had an opportunity to vote on it."

Unisys had also been a potential buyer for ACS, but according to eWeek Deason refused to consider the firm as a serious bidder.

eWeek also reported that the five directors hit back at Deason following their resignations with a letter in which they claimed the chairman's request for the men to step down was nothing but a "carefully choreographed power play".

They also described Deason's dealings with the board as "bullying and thuggery".

Deason has presented ACS with a list of replacement directors; however, it is unknown what the board's next move will be as there is currently no obvious bidder waiting to snap up the outsourcing firm. ®

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