The lawyers at intellectual property companies IPH (ASX:IPH) and Xenith (ASX:XIP) are still duelling, with the former now “disappointed” the latter still doesn’t think its now-formal takeover bid is good enough.

But the target might be open to a bit of sweet persuasion.

IPH started out trying to buy QANTM IP (ASX:QIP) last year. That company turned to Xenith as a white knight — a friendly merger — only for IPH to buy 19.9 per cent of Xenith this year to block the merger, and is now bidding for it instead.

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The idea behind all of the deals is to create an Asia-Pacific wide IP service provider.

QANTM’s friendly Xenith deal would see its shareholders own 55 per cent of the new company, and investors are due to vote on the deal on April 3.

IPH had offered a cash and scrip deal of $1.80 for every QANTM share, but is now offering Xenith shareholders about $1.99 a share in cash and scrip.

Xenith said yesterday IPH’s takeover offer was fundamentally different to their merger proposal, doesn’t offer enough of a premium for change of control, wouldn’t pass competition regulator scrutiny, and would create tax problems for shareholders.

Today, IPH said it was disappointed by the overall response but heartened by the fact that Xenith appears to be open to talking.

“The board of Xenith will consider any responses that IPH may have to the above mentioned matters and, if appropriate, Xenith and its advisors would be prepared to discuss these issues with IPH in more detail,” it said yesterday.

IPH has latched onto that statement, the second to last line of Xenith’s comeback.

They’re asking Xenith to defer the meeting vote from April 3 so they can whisper some sweet nothings in their ear and see if they can’t change a few minds.

But all of this will come to nothing if the competition regulator, the ACCC, says tomorrow that it’s rejecting the QANTM-Xenith merger, because if they don’t like a tie-up between a $190m business and a $159m company, they are unlikely to back a takeover by a $1b leviathan.

In other corporate news today:

  • MacMillan Shakespeare (ASX:MMS) has called off a merger with Eclipx (ASX:ECX) after the latter said profit was down another 42.4 per cent since January, compared to the first five months of fiscal 2018.

  • Flinders Miners (ASX:FMS) is annoyed about 249D notices — director removal requests — from 52 minority shareholders but hasn’t found any legal means to block them. The majority shareholder trying to force a delisting, TIO NZ, will vote against the proposals.