Although shares of McCormick (NYSE:MKC) are 23% higher in 2020, an investor is trying to acquire 750,000 of them at a discount by launching a mini-tender offer at a price 4% below where they currently traded.

The spice maker has recommended shareholders reject the offer, and investors would be wise to follow the advice.

Spoons filled with various spices.

Image source: Getty Images.

Not what you think it is

McCormick said it received notice TPC Capital launched a mini-tender offer for its stock at $176.38 per share, or 4.4% below the closing price on Nov. 13. The stock closed on Wednesday at over $185 per share.

Many investors are undoubtedly familiar with a tender offer, such as when one company wants to acquire another and tenders an offer to buy the stock, often at a premium. Though somewhat similar, mini-tender offers seek to acquire less than 5% of a company and almost always offer to buy the stock at a discount. While not illegal, because they are for a small percentage of a company, they remain largely unregulated. 

Mini-tender offers try to catch novice investors unawares, and the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has warned investors to be wary of them. 

TPC Capital has made a cottage industry out of mini-tender offers, and so long as it doesn't lie, protections the SEC gives investors with regular tender offers do not apply. For example, traditional tender offers give investors the opportunity to back out of a sale, but once an investor agrees to sell their shares in a mini-tender, there is no mulligan, or second chance.

McCormick has benefited from consumers increasingly cooking at home during the pandemic, and though its stock is already elevated, TPC Capital apparently thinks there is plenty of room for additional growth and would like to acquire it at a discount.

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