White Squire

A 'friendly' company or investor that helps prevent a hostile takeover

What is a White Squire?

A white squire is an individual or company that buys a large enough stake in the target company to prevent that company from being taken over by a black knight. In other words, a white squire purchases enough shares in a target company to prevent a hostile takeover.

Learn more terms and definitions in CFI’s Mergers & Acquisitions Glossary.

 

White Squire

 

Example of a White Squire

To fully understand the concept and role of a white squire, consider the following example:

 

1. Company A receives a bid offer from Company B.

In finance, Company A would be called the “Target Company” and Company B would be called the “Acquirer Company.”

 

2. Company A rejects the offer from Company B.

 

3. Despite the rejection of their offer, Company B proceeds with a tender offer (purchasing shares of Company A at a premium price) to acquire a controlling interest in Company A.

By continuing to pursue an acquisition despite getting their offer declined by Company A, Company B would be attempting a hostile takeover of Company A. Company B would be referred to as a black knight.

 

4. A friendly investor sees the hostile takeover attempt by Company B and decides to step in and help Company A. The friendly investor purchases shares in Company A to prevent them from being acquired by Company B.

The friendly investor is a white squire because they are purchasing shares that would’ve been bought by Company B. By doing so, Company B would find it difficult to acquire enough shares to gain a majority stake in Company A.

 

Incentives for the White Squire

A white squire is used to help the target company prevent a hostile takeover. The target company must incentivize the white squire to stand on its side of the target and not end up selling its shares to the black knight (thus aiding the hostile takeover attempt).

The incentives can be:

  • A seat on the board
  • Generous dividends
  • A favorable price in the purchase of shares

 

White Squire Incentives

 

A white squire, before buying the block of shares, typically must agree in advance to vote with the target company and to not sell its shares to the hostile bidder.

 

White Squire vs. White Knight

A white squire and a white knight are similar in that both are involved in preventing a hostile takeover attempt. However, the differentiating point is that a white knight purchases a majority interest while a white squire purchases a partial interest in the target company.

White squires are preferred over white knights. A white knight purchases a majority stake in the company while a white squire purchases a minority stake in the company. Therefore, in a white-squire situation, the target company is able to remain independent.

 

Other Defenses to Prevent a Hostile Takeover

There are several other defenses that can prevent a hostile takeover. Examples of other hostile takeover defenses include:

  • Crown Jewels Defense: Selling the most valuable parts of the company to deter a hostile takeover
  • Golden Parachute: A contract for executives guaranteeing extensive benefits if they are removed from the company
  • Pac-Man Defense: The target company acquiring shares of the acquiring company.
  • Supermajority Amendment: An amendment to the company’s charter to require a very large percentage of shareholders to approve major decisions. It compels the acquiring company to purchase more than 50% shares to gain a controlling interest.
  • Show-stopper: The target company starting a litigation to prevent a takeover attempt.

 

More Resources

CFI is the official global provider of the Financial Modeling and Valuation Analyst (FMVA)™ designation, a leading financial analyst certification program. To continue learning and advancing your career, these additional resources will be helpful:

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