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ACS: Whatever Suits Ya

Helluva last few days for Affiliated Computer Services: First came the news that ACS' chairman Darwin Deason is offering $59.25 per share for all outstanding ACS shares in order to take his company private. Wow -- wonder why he wants to do that? Oh, yeah: that whole backdating stock-option scandal, which, till late last week, had managed to touch most every bigwig at the locally based outsourcing firm. Then word got out that, like, yeah, just maybe Deason had a little more to do with backdating those stock options than he'd originally let on.

That came courtesy The Wall Street Journal, which revealed that federal officials investigating ACS stumbled across a Post-It not from five years back on which Deason wrote that that ACS had "always priced stock strike price on options at lowest so far in quarter." Says here Deason also wrote that "hundreds" of ACS grant recipients expected options to be granted at opportune dates and that "to change now would seem strange." Oh, yeah -- and then toward week's end it was revealed that two shareholder groups filed lawsuits to block Deason's plan to take his company private. They were filed Wednesday in Delaware Chancery Court, and they say, more or less, that Deason's offer is too low and that he hasn't looked for other buyers who could bring a higher price per share.

But all's not bad news: Yesterday morning ACS reveals it has picked up a $75-million, three-year contract with the U.S. Department of Labor to process medical bills. ACS is extending a previous deal in which it was only a subcontractor. So that's how you beat a case of the Mondays. --Robert Wilonsky

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