3 other shipyard suitors expected Bentley adds, however, that she doesn't know their identities

Maritime

December 07, 1996|By Sean Somerville | Sean Somerville,SUN STAFF

Peter G. Angelos will have to contend with three other proposals to buy BethShip Inc., which faces a shutdown next year if it isn't sold, said former U.S. Rep. Helen Delich Bentley, a maritime expert who is serving as a consultant to Angelos' group.

Bentley said yesterday that she did not know the identities of the other prospective buyers. She said price alone will not determine the buyer.

The criteria will include, "Who's going to keep the yard going? Who has the best ideas to do it? Who's interested in the people as well as who has the cash?" Bentley said.

Bethlehem Steel Corp., BethShip's owner, has declined to identify prospective buyers of BethShip or three Bethlehem, Pa., units that are also for sale. Art Roth, a spokesman, yesterday said only that the company is "considering proposals from others."

Angelos submitted his proposal Thursday.

"Obviously, we would prefer that there are no other bidders," he said yesterday. "But this doesn't in any way dampen our interest."

Bethlehem Steel said in October that it would close BethShip and the Bethlehem units next year if it did not find qualified buyers. Bethlehem Steel, which is believed to be seeking about $30 million for BethShip, requested proposals by Thursday.

Murphy Thornton, president of the Industrial Union of Marine & Shipbuilding Workers of America, said yesterday that other companies that had expressed interest in BethShip included National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) and Southwest Marine, both in San Diego.

Fred Hallett, a NASSCO spokesman, declined to comment. Southwest Marine officials did not return phone calls.

Bentley said yesterday that NASSCO and Southwest Marine had not submitted proposals. She also said it's possible that companies that had not yet contacted Bethlehem Steel could still come forward.

Angelos said, "I think whoever is there now is the competition, and I'm confident we'll prevail."

Thornton said his "preference would be with a group like the Angelos group, or American-owned." He also said members hadn't given much thought to the benefits of having a labor lawyer leading the company. "Our major incentive now is that we get a buyer," he said.

Bentley, a Republican known for detailed knowledge of federal maritime policy, said her work as a consultant for Angelos' group arose from their mutual interest in BethShip.

Richard Singer, an Owings Mills real estate developer and Angelos' partner in the deal, "was probably the matchmaker," she said.

Bentley joined Singer and Angelos Tuesday night for a meeting with union leaders. She said she was unsure whether she might take a role in running BethShip if Angelos acquires it.

Pub Date: 12/07/96

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