Xerox options trade surges on takeover speculation

Monday, January 8, 2007; 4:10 PM

CHICAGO (Reuters) - Xerox Corp. <XRX.N> options trading surged on Monday as trader speculation spread that Eastman Kodak Co. <EK.N>could acquire the printer maker, options analysts said.

Analysts downplayed the speculation, noting that such a transaction is unlikely to occur because film maker Kodak is less than half the size of Xerox by market capitalization and is in the midst of a restructuring following years of turmoil in its business.

Xerox spokeswoman Christa Carone declined comment, saying the company would not respond to rumors and speculation. Kodak had a similar response.

Xerox shares have a market value of about $16 billion, more than twice Kodak's market capitalization of about $7 billion.

"I don't see Xerox getting bought out," said Paul Foster, an options analyst with Chicago-based who reported the rumor on the financial news Web site on Monday. "But I reported it because that was the chatter on trading desks this morning."

Some 23,000 Xerox options had changed hands as of Monday afternoon. That is more than 21 times the average daily volume over the past month, according to market research firm Track Data.

"We do see an interest in Xerox call options today. There are rumors of a possible takeover," said independent options trader Robert Leone at the Chicago Board Options Exchange. "But this is not the first time that Xerox has been mentioned as a takeover candidate."

Stamford, Connecticut-based Xerox shares rose 30 cents, or 1.8 percent, to $17.03 in late afternoon trade on the New York Stock Exchange. Eastman Kodak shares fell 15 cents, or 0.6 percent, to $25.48.

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