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Kohlberg appears to win hand of Beatrice

November 15, 1985



Chicago

An investor group led by Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co. appears to have succeeded in a takeover bid for Beatrice Companies Inc., the Chicago-based consumer products company. KKR had proposed a $5.4 billion leveraged buyout of Beatrice in which Donald P. Kelley, former chairman of Esmark Inc., would head Beatrice. Esmark was acquired by Beatrice last year. Beatrice has received a similar offer from Dart Group of Landover, Md., an operator of book and auto parts stores, and E. F. Hutton & Co.

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The KKR offer was initially resisted by Beatrice and thus was the largest ``hostile'' leveraged-buyout offer yet in the wave of corporate takeovers. If the offer is accepted by Beatrice, however, it will probably take the form of a friendly takeover.

The Federal Communications Commission approved two major mergers Thursday, transferring the operating licenses of 32 of the nation's popular TV and radio stations to new owners. The FCC gave its OK to the $3.5 billion purchase of ABC Inc. by Capital Cities Communications Inc.; the new corporation will be named Capital Cities-ABC Inc.

The FCC also approved Rupert Murdoch's proposed acquisition of Metromedia Inc.; this will give Mr. Murdoch five major TV stations that could form the basis of a new TV network. A sixth Metromedia station, WCVB-TV of Boston, is being sold to the Hearst Corporation.

Although CBS Inc. posted its first-ever operating loss in the third quarter -- largely because of expenses incurred in warding off a takeover bid by Atlanta broadcaster Ted Turner -- Wall Street is apparently not too concerned. CBS stock rose in the wake of Wednesday's announcement of the $114.1 million third-quarter loss. Investors appeared to be endorsing CBS's restructuring move. CBS plans to concentrate on broadcasting, recorded music, and publishing. It is selling its interest in Tri-Star Pictures Inc. and plans to sell KMOX-TV in St. Louis. It is also selling one of its toy lines to Hasbro Inc. and is closing its computer software division.

Meanwhile, Laurence A. Tisch, chairman of Loews Corporation, was elected to the CBS board. Loews now owns 11.9 percent of CBS stock and plans to increase its share to 25 percent.

Despite the agreement between Mexican publisher Mario V'azquez Rana and Joseph Russo to buy United Press International, another bid has been made. Financial News Network Inc. and a consortium of four American and two British companies made its own proposal Wednesday.

The V'azquez Rana-Russo package is worth more than $40 million. Initially they were rival bidders, but their joint proposal has been approved by UPI's chairman, creditors, and the Wire Service Guild. Any offer is subject to the approval of a bankruptcy judge.

United States Steel Corporation made another moderate price increase Thursday by eliminating discounts on two categories of pipe while lowering its list prices. The change, the latest in a series of increases by major steel producers, brings list prices closer to actual prices in a steel market that has been made competitive by cheap imports, sluggish demand, and excess production capacity in the United States.

The London Metal Exchange said Thursday that tin trading will remain suspended next week. Trading in the metal was halted Oct. 24 after the International Tin Council, a 22-nation cartel that has bought surplus tin to keep the price artificially high, ran out of money, threatening the market with collapse. Bankers and metal traders who had lent the Tin Council money have said the cartel's financial crisis must be solved before trading starts again.