M & A Law Prof Blog

Editor: Brian JM Quinn
Boston College Law School

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

3Com Options Trading...More Insider Trading?

OK, it's almost too much to bear.  Someone stop the madness.  Bloomberg is reporting that 3Com options were trading at records volumes and a 26-month high just prior to today's announcement of 3Com's acquisition by HP.  

Almost 4,000 of the November $5 calls and 3,300 December $5 calls traded today, with almost all of the transactions occurring at noon. That compares with a total of six puts giving the right to sell 3Com shares. Hewlett-Packard, the world’s largest personal-computer maker, agreed to pay $7.90 a share in cash for 3Com, a 39 percent premium to today’s closing price.

You'd think people weren't paying attention to Perot Systems/Dell deal of just a few weeks ago.  As Zvi Goffer might say, trading short-term call options just before the announcement of a transaction is a ticket to the [expletive] big house. 


Update:  Bloomberg is not letting go of this story.  Good for them.

“I don’t believe in that much luck,” said Steve Claussen, chief investment strategist at OptionsHouse LLC, the Chicago- based online brokerage unit of options trading firm PEAK6 Investments LP, and a former market maker at the Chicago Board Options Exchange. “If you’re on the other side of someone buying calls and a takeover is announced, it’s like someone held you up at gunpoint. It’s like you’ve been robbed and you feel violated.


More than 8,000 3Com calls changed hands yesterday, 17 times the four-week average. The most active were contracts conveying the right to purchase 3Com for $5 through Nov. 20, followed by December $5 calls. The shares rose 5.2 percent, the most since Sept. 28, to $5.68 in Nasdaq Stock Market composite trading prior to the announcement.


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