Talks about merging Port East, Cowan end Companies' owners found deal 'complex'

April 04, 1992|By John H. Gormley Jr. | John H. Gormley Jr.,Staff Writer

The heads of Cowan Enterprises Inc. and Port East Transfer Inc. said yesterday they have ended merger talks aimed at creating a big, publicly owned, Baltimore-based transportation company.

Edwin F. Hale, owner of Port East Transfer, said the deal collapsed when the two sides could not resolve tax liabilities that would have resulted from spinning off one of Cowan's operations.

"It was a very complex deal," said Mr. Hale, who categorized the negotiations as amicable.

The merger would have created a trucking, barging and warehousing operation generating annual revenues of about $100 million.

Mr. Hale brought to the table Port East Transfer, a trucking company,and Hale Container Line, a barge company. Cowan Enterprises includes two trucking operations, Ty Pruitt Trucking and Cowan Transportation Inc., as well as Key Warehouse Services Inc., which has two warehouses in the Baltimore area.

Joseph W. Cowan, president of Cowan Transportation, said, "We mutually feel the merger was a great idea and a great concept." But, he added, putting the deal together turned out to be "a lot more complicated than anyone thought."

The decision to end the merger talks was made Monday, he said. The original plans, announced in early February, called for the merger to be consummated last month and for a public stock offering to be held in the fall.

The combined operations would have been called AtlanTrans, with Mr. Hale as chairman and Mr. Cowan as president and chief executive.

Mr. Cowan and Mr. Hale said they might revisit the merger plan at a later date. "Maybe down the road we can reconsider," Mr. Cowan said.

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