Epiq Systems Inc. on Thursday said it is exploring a “full range” of strategic options and has established a takeover defense plan after an activist shareholder increased its stake in the legal services technology company.
Kansas City, Kan.-based Epiq said its options may include acquisitions, divestitures or a going-private transaction.
“Our board of directors and management are committed to enhancing value for Epiq’s shareholders,” Tom Olofson, Epiq’s chairman and chief executive, said in the statement.
However, Epiq said that there is no timetable for completing its review and that it is also possible the company will stand pat.
Earlier this month, the New Orleans investment firm St. Denis J. Villere & Co. said in a regulatory filing that it had acquired a 16.2 percent stake in Epiq. The firm has owned Epiq stock over the years.
While Villere said in the filing that its purchase was for investment purposes, it also said it believes Epiq “should explore strategic alternatives” to increase shareholder value.
Villere said it notified Epiq in June that it intends to nominate a group of directors to Epiq’s board at the 2015 annual shareholders meeting.
Epiq executives declined to comment further.
Shares in Epiq closed Thursday at $17.42, down 13 cents. The stock is up 9.84 percent so far this year and is up 34 percent from a year ago.
Epiq also said it has adopted a short-term shareholder rights plan to help all investors maximize the value of their ownership and to protect them from “unfair or coercive takeover attempts.”
The company said it will issue a dividend of one right on each outstanding share of Epiq stock as of Sept. 29.
If the rights plan is activated, it will make an unfriendly offer more expensive “and thus deter attempts to acquire the company on terms that the board does not believe are in the best interests of all its shareholders,” Epiq said.
The plan is set to expire on May 15, 2015, unless terminated earlier by the board.