Fate of Renault's Mack bid unknown until Monday

September 29, 1990|By Kim Clark

Mack Trucks Inc.'s investors and workers will have to wait until Monday to find out who won the game of financial "chicken" that decided the 100-year-old truck-maker's fate.

Spokesmen for Renault Vehicules Industriels in New York said yesterday that it would take several days to find out whether their company had received enough stock to take over troubled, Allentown, Pa.-based Mack by the 9 p.m. Friday deadline.

The French automotive giant had said that if it did not have control of 90 percent of Mack's stock by last night, its takeover bid would fail and that the maker of bulldog-emblazoned trucks might be forced into bankruptcy.

Mack stockholders said last night that they had been holding on to their Mack shares in the hope that someone would come forward with an offer higher than Renault's $6.25-a-share bid but that they expected to send their shares to Renault at the last minute.

Joachim Schnabel, who manages holdings of Mack and other stock for the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association and College Retirement Fund, said he and other big institutional holders were "playing a game of chicken to the very end."

"We were hoping the truck and stock markets would bail us out," explained Mr. Schnabel, who was listed as controlling 1.7 million shares of Mack this summer.

But Mr. Schnabel said he realized he would be stuck taking Renault's offer -- which was less than he paid

for the stock and less than he considered fair -- because Renault had controlled 45 percent of Mack's stock for many years and could effectively bar anyone else from successfully bidding on the company.

"Renault held all the cards," he said.

Mr. Schnabel said he was disappointed with Renault's bid because he thought Mack, though it has lost several hundred million dollars in the last two years, was finally recovering.

Mack's new tractor-trailer was winning market share, "and you could see daylight. . . . This thing is going to pop," he said.

Steven Colbert, a truck industry analyst at Prudential Bache's San Francisco office, said he had been recommending that holders sell theirMack stock to Renault even though most of them paid more than Renault's bid.

"The stockholders wouldn't come out better if Mack went into bankruptcy," Mr. Colbert said.

And, because of the indications of a worsening oil shortage and a recession, he said, he thinks it will take Mack longer than expected to turn around its finances.

But even success by Renault would not guarantee stability for Mack's workers, including 1,700 employees in its Hagerstown engine plant. Renault has warned that if it is successful it might still restructure the company.

Officials at the United Auto Workers union, which represents Mack's hourly workers, refused to comment on the takeover bid.

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