It may be hard for business owners and executives in Florida to see the acquisition of another company as anything but a good thing. Indeed, society often views such an action as a proverbial measuring stick of a company’s growth and/or stability, as people see a merger as a surefire way to help the acquiring organization. Yet for all the potential excitement that a potential merger or acquisition may generate, it is a matter that everyone involved should handle with care. If any appearance of impropriety emerges, a company or individual (or both) could see themselves becoming subject to civil and even criminal penalties.

According to Westfair Communications, a recent lawsuit filed against the renowned corporate financier Carl Icahn serves to illustrate this point. Icahn currently sits as the largest shareholder of Xerox, which recently made a multibillion-dollar offer to acquire the Hewlett-Packard company.

Investors in Xerox have accused Icahn of having used insider information to motivate his recent purchase of over 4% of HP’s stock (which makes him that company’s fifth-largest shareholder). The accusations even go so far as to suggest that he might have approached HP about initiating the deal himself. Knowing such information prior to the news of the potential merger becoming public would put Icahn in a prime position to profit from such an action.

This case underscores the need for companies to handle mergers and acquisitions properly. Oftentimes business owners and executives will lack the legal knowledge needed to avoid potential pitfalls. An attorney with experience in business law may help to provide such insight.