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Anti-takeover device that gives a prospective acquiree's shareholders the right to buy shares of the firm or shares of anyone who acquires the firm at a deep discount to their fair market value. Named after the cyanide pill that secret government agents are said to be instructed to swallow if capture is imminent.
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.
An antitakeover tactic in which warrants are issued to a firm's stockholders, giving them the right to purchase shares of the firm's stock at a bargain price in the event that a suitor hostile to management acquires a stipulated percentage of the firm's stock. The poison pill is intended to make the takeover so expensive that any attempt to take control will be abandoned. See also flip-over pill, Jonestown defense, macaroni defense, suicide pill.