AT&T may boost offer for NCR
American Telephone and Telegraph Co. said yesterday it is prepared to raise its offer for NCR Corp by $10 to $100 per share if NCR will negotiate a merger agreement.
AT&T also said NCR rejected its attempt this weekend to arrange a meeting to propose the increased offer.
But AT&T spokeswoman Jane Biba said AT&T, in trying to arrange the meeting, did not tell NCR it was willing to raise its offer to $100 from $90 per share. NCR chairman Charles E. Exley Jr. said, "We have told AT&T in the past and we told them again this weekend that our board would consider a serious proposal. If AT&T wants to proceed in a professional and responsible manner, they should deal directly with us and submit a serious proposal in writing."
In the absence of an agreement, AT&T's announcement said, it was continuing its $90 per share cash tender offer and its solicitation of proxies to replace NCR's board. NCR, the nation's number 5 computer maker, had rejected AT&T's $90 bid as inadequate. AT&T then drew up plans for a shareholder vote to oust NCR's board at a special meeting before the company's annual meeting March 28.
AT&T needs an 80 percent shareholder vote to oust NCR's directors.
Piper & Marbury to Big Apple
Baltimore-based Piper & Marbury, which already has offices in Washington and London, is opening an office in New York this month.
John J. McCann, who until recently was chief investment counsel for Prudential Insurance Company of America, will head the new office. It is eventually expected to employ between 15 and 20 lawyers, according to Decatur H. Miller, chairman of Piper & Marbury.
The attorneys in the New York office are to focus initially on equity and debt financing, project financing and creditors' rights law. Miller said the office also may get into areas of communications and environmental law.
Square D rejects offer
Electrical manufacturer Square D Co., fighting a hostile takeover bid by Schneider SA, said its board of directors voted unanimously yesterday to formally reject Schneider's $78 a share tender offer.
The company previously advised shareholders not to tender their shares to the Paris-based Schneider, which launched a $1.98 billion unsolicited offer last week.
Square D also said that it has rescheduled its annual meeting for May 24 from its regular date in April in light of the Schneider offer and pending litigation against the French electrical-equipment manufacturer.
Pan Am in jeopardy
As British and American negotiators adjourned their marathon talks yesterday over the transfer of landing rights at London's Heathrow Airport, Pan American World Airways remained in jeopardy of being forced to stop flying. But observers predicted that the bankrupt carrier still had some breathing room before a major bank and other creditors might pull the plug.
At issue in the talks, which have been going on in both London and Washington for several months, is whether landing rights at highly congested Heathrow Airport can be sold by Pan Am to United Airlines and by Trans World Airlines to American Airlines. Pan Am is to get $290 million for the routes, and United had already advanced $20 million of that to Pan Am before it filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. After the filing, Bankers Trust Co. loaned $100 million to Pan Am and United advanced another $20 million.
Gas prices continue to fall
Gasoline is cheaper than it was before Iraq invaded Kuwait in August, but the onset of spring may increase demand and raise prices, according to a nationwide survey released yesterday.
OPEC eyes production curbs
The OPEC ministers met today for the first time since the Persian Gulf War to decide whether to curb surging production and shore up crude oil prices.
However, Saudi Arabia, the cartel's most important member, appeared reluctant to do much to halt excess production. Iranian Oil Minister Gholamreza Aqazadeh said the "atmosphere is not very easy" for the meeting of the 13-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Iraq, defeated in the six-week war, did not send a representative. Kuwait, freed of Iraqi invaders but its oil industry in tatters, was represented by deputy oil minister, Sulaiman al-Omani. On the eve of the talks, Saudi Arabia appeared to take a tough stand against calls for sharp cuts in oil supply in the coming months. Saudi Arabian Oil Minister Hisham Nazer repeated today his doubts that the session, technically a monitoring committee meeting to review the markets, would be turned into a decision-making conference.
Daily News deadline extended
British publisher Robert Maxwell and nine unions at the strikebound Daily News agreed today to extend the deadline of their talks aimed at rescuing the ailing newspaper.
Spokesmen for both sides said the deadline for an agreement between the publisher and the unions had been extended until midnight but they insisted the talks had not hit a snag.
The original deadline for the talks was 10 a.m. EST Monday.
George McDonald, the head of the Allied Printing Trades Council, an umbrella group for the nine unions, said the deadline was extended because both sides were extremely tired after days of marathon negotions.
Maxwell had said that he would not extend the deadline but changed his mind as the talks lasted through the night.
Maxwell, who has signed a letter of intent to buy the paper, is looking for major savings from the unions if he is to take it over from the its Chicago-based owners, Tribune Co.
News publisher James Hoge has said the tabloid will fold on Friday if it has not been sold.