One way Theranos is hoping to stay afloat is by offering double the shares — including some of founder Elizabeth Holmes’ own shares — to investors if they promise not to sue.
Theranos is knee-deep in an avalanche of lawsuits from investors and consumers of its blood-testing products after it was discovered the tests had an accuracy problem and didn’t meet with the company’s own standards. Its main partner, Walgreens, has since pulled out and is also suing the company.
According to The Wall Street Journal, Theranos’ board approved a move in February to shuffle shares, including from founder Elizabeth Holmes, to investors as a way to appease them.
The deal would include those investors in Theranos’ latest funding round in 2015, which yielded $600 million. But those investors, which may include later-stage investors, including BlueCross BlueShield Venture Partners, Continental Properties Co., Esoom (Enterprise of Taiwan), Jupiter Partners, Palmieri Trust, Dixon Doll, Ray Bingham and B.J. Cassin, would now get twice the shares for each share they bought in that round, according to the Journal and confirmed by Theranos.
“This is an affirmative development for the company, providing a path forward in partnership with employees, investors and other stakeholders,” Theranos director Daniel J. Warmenhoven said in a statement to TechCrunch. “Elizabeth elected to contribute her own equity to protect any dilution of shares held by other parties. In my experience, this is a uniquely structured deal that not only demonstrates a sophisticated understanding of our operating environment but shows a level of selflessness and grace reflecting her commitment to the company’s success.”
It’s not clear how many shares Holmes is offering up herself, but at least a couple of investors aren’t taking the deal. Theranos has reached a separate agreement with Rupert Murdoch, the executive chairman of News Corp and 21st Century Fox Inc., who refused to agree to the same deal as other investors — possibly for tax reasons. Theranos will instead buy back his shares for $1, according to the Journal’s sources.
Another investor, San Francisco-based hedge fund Partner Fund Management LP, which sued Theranos in October and participated in the $198 Series C round attributed to have driven Theranos to its former $9 billion valuation, also refused the agreement.