Bidding deadline for Grumman passes quietly

April 01, 1994|By Ted Shelsby | Ted Shelsby,Sun Staff Writer

The deadlines came and went yesterday with no new scrimmages in the takeover battle between Martin Marietta Corp. and Northrop Corp. for control of Grumman Corp.

Grumman declined to say if either of its suitors submitted a new bid before the 5 p.m. EST deadline that it set earlier this week for the competitors to submit their "best and highest offer."

On Wednesday, Northrop announced that it was prepared to up its bid to $62 a share, or $2.11 billion, but only if it reached a merger agreement with Grumman by 3 p.m. yesterday. Grumman rejected the offer Wednesday, and yesterday brought no announcement of an agreement.

Lorine Lyons, a spokeswoman for Grumman, said the company will not announce the results of the bidding process until Monday. Under the ground rules set by Grumman, the bidders also are prohibited from disclosing their offers until then.

Martin Marietta declined to comment. "What ever happened, we consider it a private matter between us and Grumman," said Buzz Bartlett, a spokesman for the Bethesda-based defense contractor. Tony Cantafio, a Northrop spokesman, also declined to comment.

Martin Marietta already has reached a merger agreement with Grumman to buy the Long Island company for $1.93 billion, or $55 a share. Northrop has proposed buying Grumman for $2.04 billion, or $60 a share.

The market apparently believes that a higher bid is coming. Grumman shares closed yesterday at $64.625, up 75 cents.

But some analysts doubt that the the price will go any higher. Paul H. Nisbit, president of JSA Research in Newport, R.I., said that while the Wall Street "consensus is that Martin Marietta will make a bid in the high 60s, I don't think they will. That would would be a 25 percent increase in its bid, and Norman R. Augustine [chairman and chief executive] has said he would not overpay for Grumman. The trouble is, we don't know the definition of overpay."

Mr. Nisbit and other analysts feel that Northrop may let Martin Marietta bid and then come back with its "trump bid" early next week and let the courts decide the winner.

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