Martin Marietta Corp. is keeping a close eye on French government-controlled Thomson-CSF's restructuring of its offer to acquire LTV Corp.'s missiles unit and is prepared to resubmit its own bid if the opportunity arises, the Bethesda-based company said yesterday.
"We're waiting to see what Thomson proposes," Martin spokesman Charles P. Manor said of the French company's announcement Monday. Thomson-CSF said it wants to rework its controversial $300 million bid for the LTV unit, perhaps bringing in another large U.S. defense company as a partner.
NTC Mr. Manor said Martin would have "serious reservations or objections" to any proposed acquisition of LTV's missile unit by a foreign company.
It would not matter, he explained, if the proposed purchase included 100 percent foreign ownership, as originally proposed, or 49 percent ownership or 20 percent ownership.
"We say that from a competitive standpoint, from a free-trade standpoint and from a national security standpoint," he said.
Martin is prepared to come back, he said, with basically the same $385 million offer that it proposed for LTV's missile and aircraft units in April.
According to industry sources, Thomson is trying to package a new deal involving Northrop Corp., Loral Corp. or Raytheon Co., under which the French company would have a much-reduced role in owning and running the LTV division.
Martin and its partner, Lockheed Corp., lost out in a bidding war for LTV's missile and aircraft businesses to a team that included Thomson's U.S. subsidiary, the Carlyle Group, an investment company headquartered in Washington, and Hughes Aircraft Co. Their bid for the two subsidiaries totaled more than $400 million.
The Martin-led group has argued that a transfer of U.S. missile technology to Thomson, which is 58 percent owned by the French government, would threaten U.S. security.
Martin has found strong congressional support for its position. The Senate voted 93-4 last week to adopt a resolution in opposition to the Thomson proposal.
Thomson has said it planned to pump money into the LTV unit to make it a "center for the development and production of missiles." It has said that the LTV missile unit would remain a U.S. company subject to U.S. laws regulating exports of sensitive technology and weapons.
Dallas-based LTV has been operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection for six years. It has sought to sell its missile and aircraft divisions to settle a financing problem with its pension fund.
In addition to its production of tactical missiles, including some used in the Persian Gulf war, LTV produces components for the B-2 bomber and Boeing jetliners.