Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Legal.
Rights Agreement (aka "Poison Pill")
An anti-takeover arrangement often established by a company in anticipation of a hostile takeover attempt. The company appoints a Rights Agent who will issue Rights Certificates to each shareholder at the time of the takeover attempt. The shareholder may then exercise these rights to receive additional shares of stock and/or debentures, making the target company more expensive to acquire as a result of the additional shares outstanding, or the additional debt.
An antitakeover measure stipulating that shareholders on the receiving end of a hostile takeover may buy shares in their own company at a price below fair market value. Once the acquisition is complete, the provision allows these same shareholders to buy more shares in the new company for below market value. This forces shareholders in the acquiring company to suffer a devaluation and dilution of their own shares. This is done to discourage hostile takeovers among the shareholders of the acquiring companies. It is important to note that a poison pill need not use both of these tactics; sometimes it utilizes only one or the other.