Shareholder rights plans

Shareholder rights plans, commonly known as “poison pills,” are arrangements that can be used by companies to stave off hostile takeovers or activist investors seeking to exert control over a company without paying a control premium. A typical rights plan, if triggered, would allow all shareholders except the triggering person to purchase additional shares in the company at a substantial discount. The resulting share dilution makes it significantly more expensive for the triggering person to purchase a controlling stake in the company. Because of this, it is extremely rare for a rights plan to be triggered; instead, rights plans can have the effect of encouraging hostile bidders or activist investors to negotiate directly with a company’s board of directors.