Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Three brief items

1. Microchip Technology says that it has plans to wage a proxy battle for control of Atmel, and has announced seven nominees for the board of directors.

Atmel, a company headquartered in San Jose, Calif., manufactures microcontrollers, advanced logic, mixed-signal, nonvolatile memory and radio frequency (RF) components.

Microchip made an unsolicited bid to acquire Atmel in late October and was rebuffed. This week's announcement is in response.

2. RA Capital Healthcare Fund, a hedge fund with a biotech focus, is urging the board of Northstar Neuroscience Inc. to make a cash distribution to its shareholders or to implement a share buy-back program.

Northstar, based in Seattle, Wash., makes medical devices, especially a system that delivers targeted electrical impulses, "cortical stimulation," to the brain for what the company's website describes as "investigatory purposes."

RA Capital's letter is mostly limited to "urging" a course of action. There is no real "or else" clause because RA seems to be aware that it isn't in much of a position to forcefully re-direct corporate policy.

3. Whatever you might want to say about Marc Dreier, the lawyer who was caught impersonating a pension plan official last week, you can't argue with his timing. If one is going to be caught in stupid high-level criminality, one should make sure that it is squeezed between Gov. Blago's arrest on the one side and the follies d'Madoff on the other.

For those who have forgotten Dreier and thus aren't sure what I'm talking about ... well, that's the point. And here's a reminder.

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