Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Lawyer from Hell

Bloomberg reports that David Boies is at it again.

Wachovia Bank signed a merger agreement with Citigroup a little over a week ago. They signed the agreement -- indicating their intention to merge at the negotiated terms. All that remained to complete the deal was regulatory and shareholder approval, and a closing.

The last time I checked, a signed deal is deal.

Maybe it just depends on what you mean by "is." Wells Fargo has come along and offered more money for WB - a lot more.

No matter that a deal was done with Citi; Wachovia has retained David Boies -- the notorious shark who argued the sham case for Al Gore when his attempt to rig the Florida presidential vote failed in 2000. The esteemed counsel is arguing, once again, that rules change when enough is at stake. In Boise's world, rule of law and signed contracts are meaningless when political favors can be called and public opinion can be manipulated to nullify them.

His tack in this, his most recent attempt to decimate the legal foundations of western civilization for a nice, fat fee, is to argue something about the "bailout bill obliging Wachovia to seek a higher bid." But Wachovia relinquished its freedom to seek a higher bid when it signed off on the deal with Citi. And the "bailout bill" simply does not apply to banks that don't need to be bailed out.

Surely Boies' main value-added here is that Chris Dodd, Barney Frank, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, et al, are kindred spirits and speak the same language, making bargaining a foregone conclusion. It doesn't hurt that the new legislation probably gives him lots of gray area to exploit, along with popular sentiment. Count on much grandstanding by Boies' fellow travellers in congress about "doing what's best for the taxpayer," when the taxpayer has nothing whatsoever to do with Wachovia's merger or its unholy attempt to squirm out of it.

The only upside to this is that Boies might be too busy trying to nullify Wachovia's contract to help Barack Obama hijack the presidential election.

The lesser of the evils if there ever was one.


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