Has intellectual property firm Xenith (ASX:XIP) just being playing hard to get all these months?

The company today sent a direct signal to its once-hostile, now ardent admirer IPH (ASX:IPH) that it might be ready to walk down the aisle — but only with a bigger rock.

  • Scroll down for more corporate scraps.

It postponed a shareholder vote next week to “a later date” on a merger with fellow IP company QANTM Intellectual Property (ASX:QIP).

It’s all so it can see if IPH will up its price.

The back story is that $1bn IPH tried to buy QANTM last year. It 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 the latter instead.

Last week Xenith hinted that they may be open to some sweet whispers from IPH, just before the ACCC said it wouldn’t stand in the way of either a merger or a takeover.

What was once a love match between Xenith and QANTM just got a whole lot more complicated.

QANTM is reiterating the benefits of its merger of semi-equals, which would see Xenith shareholders own 45 per cent of the new company, saying share price movements aren’t really a good way to value it and, quite frankly, they’re going to lose in any IPH deal.

IPH is jubilant, crowing that its share price rise now means the total value of the deal to Xenith shareholders is $2.01 a share.

Xenith is merely, but pointedly, saying that “in the absence of a superior proposal” it’s still backing the merger with its chum QANTM.

In other ASX corporate fight club news today:

Micro-X (ASX:MX1) is taking a former close partner to court. It alleges former product designer Allora (once named Hydrix) breached a contract and engaged in misleading and deceptive conduct.

It reckons Allora charged $19m in total to design its first portable DRX Revolution Nano X-ray machine but they had a number of disputes in 2015 around overcharging, project cost overruns and costs associated with rectifying design defects prior to product release, and withheld $1.8m in payments in June 2016.

Micro-X listed in December 2015. Managing director Peter Rowland says they didn’t put any details of the dispute in the prospectus because the problems only started just before listing. He says they didn’t tell shareholders until today about the escalation because it wasn’t a problem until late last year, when the former head of Hydrix — now the boss of no-longer-trading Allora — started demanding that $1.8m.

Micro-X said it made a claim against Allora last year for $13.7m — the cost of time and money spent on fixing mistakes in the DRX — which it also neglected to mention in 2018 statements.

It’s a large chunk of money for the company. It had $4.4m in cash left at the end of December, net liabilities (that is, its debts outweighed its assets) of $165,000, and a half year loss of $6.3m.