Palm forming PR ahead of shareholder vote

MILPITAS, CA: As Palm gears up for the October 28 shareholder vote that will determine whether the company can acquire Handspring and spin off its software division, its new in-house and external PR is taking shape.

MILPITAS, CA: As Palm gears up for the October 28 shareholder vote that will determine whether the company can acquire Handspring and spin off its software division, its new in-house and external PR is taking shape.

Communications VP Marlene Somsak said that A&R Partners would remain as Palm's US agency of record, while Handspring's corporate communications director Allen Bush and corporate communications manager Brian Jaquet will join Palm. Bush will become Palm's director of carrier marketing, while Jaquet will oversee PR for Palm's wireless products.

Over at PalmSource, the software division of Palm that will ideally be spun off into its own public company, Cynthia Harris has joined as worldwide PR director. She previously ran her own tech PR firm Strategy Associates, which she closed last year.

"As PalmSource prepares to become an independent, publicly traded company, we're assessing our PR needs," said Harris, who will report to SVP of worldwide marketing Gabi Schindler.

Meanwhile, Somsak is focusing on those investors who will decide Palm's fate on October 28. Palm will also change its name to PalmOne after the vote, a move that is not subject to shareholder approval.

"We're telling our investors that this is a very good deal, as it will unlock shareholder value by letting Palm split into a pure-play hardware company and a pure-play software company," said Somsak. "We're getting the word out in a number of ways. We have put in the mail packets of information, which shareholders can also access electronically.

"We're also going to do a few profiles with the major business press," added Somsak. "And we've reviewed information to see where our shareholders are concentrated, so we can target local press, whether it's in Florida or Illinois."

And since more than half of Palm's investors are institutional shareholders, Palm will also take executives on the road to meet with major investors. She pointed out that Fidelity Investments now owns 11% of Palm due to a recent stock purchase.

"When we announced our intentions for this vote, we got some encouraging responses from securities analysts," said Somsak. "We anticipate a positive outcome."

Somsak said that she's relieved that Palm's acquisition has not faced the same pressure as other recent high-profile acquisitions, such as PeopleSoft's acquisition of J.D. Edwards, which triggered a hostile takeover bid by Oracle for PeopleSoft.

"We've had wide-scale interest in this vote, but there hasn't been any pressure or problems," said Somsak. "I'm encouraged and happy by the lack of drama."

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