By Liana B. Baker and Greg Roumeliotis
(Reuters) - Buyout firm Apollo Global Management LLC (APO.N) has approached Xerox Corp (XRX.N) to express interest in a possible acquisition, casting new uncertainty over the U.S. printer company's $6.1 billion sale to Japan's Fujifilm Holdings <4901.T>, people familiar with the matter said on Wednesday.
The development marks the latest twist in Xerox's saga. On Tuesday, Xerox said its chief executive, Jeff Jacobson, and most of its board will step down to settle a lawsuit by activist shareholders Carl Icahn and Darwin Deason.
Apollo's interest in Xerox has been reinforced by the appointment of John Visentin as the company's new CEO, the sources said. Visentin was previously CEO of Novitex Enterprise Solutions and also chairman of Presidio Inc (PSDO.O), two companies in which Apollo invested.
There is no certainty that Apollo's approach will entice Xerox or that it will lead to a deal. Fujifilm has said it will challenge a court order suspending its deal with Xerox, while the new board of the latter reviews it.
The sources asked not to be identified because the approach is confidential. Apollo and Xerox declined to comment, while Fujifilm did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Deason declined to comment while Icahn could not be reached for comment.
Xerox shares pared losses on news of Apollo's approach, and were down 5.8 percent at $30.42 on Wednesday afternoon after plunging as much as 8 percent on news of the outcome of Icahn and Deason's legal challenge. Xerox has a market capitalization of $7 billion.
As part of the settlement with Icahn and Deason announced on Tuesday, Xerox said its board of directors would meet immediately to begin evaluating all strategic alternatives to maximize shareholder value, including ending or restructuring Xerox’s deal with Fujifilm.
Icahn and Deason had already won a rare court order to temporarily block the deal, which they said undervalued Xerox. A New York judge last week agreed that CEO Jeff Jacobson had been "hopelessly conflicted" in negotiating a deal that would put him in charge, since he knew the board was looking to replace him.
Visentin had previously been hired by Icahn to assist in fighting Xerox. He had also been a candidate under consideration by the old board to replace Jacobson as recently as last year, according to court documents.
(Reporting by Liana B. Baker in Los Angeles and Greg Roumeliotis in New York; Editing by Nick Zieminski and Matthew Lewis)