Brooks Brothers et al. is big takeover target of a dapper Canadian

One of the biggest real estate developers in Canada is trying to buy one of the biggest retailers in the United States. Campeau Corporation, controlled by Robert Campeau, has made a US$2.5 billion takeover bid for Allied Stores, a giant retailing chain that controls such outlets as Brooks Brothers, Gimbels, and Jordan Marsh.

Mr. Campeau is an elegantly dressed French-speaking Canadian who would probably find a Brooks Brothers button-down shirt a little casual. He made his fortune in real estate in Ottawa and Toronto, where he developed a hotel, convention center, and condominium complex along the lakefront.

Although Mr. Campeau is a big name in Canada -- Campeau Corporation is the third-largest real estate development firm in the country -- he may have bitten off more than he can chew in this acquisition, analysts here say. The Dominion Bond Rating Service has placed Campeau on its ``credit alert'' list.

``You wonder about Campeau's capacity to finance this thing,'' says Timothy Crocker of the Toronto-based rating agency. But Campeau told a news conference: ``We are confident that all necessary funding can be obtained.''

Allied operates 665 stores in the US and Japan. Those outlets include Maas Brothers, Garfinckel's, and Miller & Rhoads, along with those mentioned above. Allied has 64,000 employees, and in fiscal 1985 it had sales of US$4.1 billion and net earnings of US$159 million.

Campeau Corporation is much smaller: It had revenues of US$154.6 million and net income of $20.1 million in '85. Campeau has only 850 employees.

In a letter to Allied chairman Thomas Macioce, Campeau called the buyout offer ``fair and generous,'' considering that ``recent merger activity in the retail industry'' had caused Allied stock to rise sharply before his offer.

The Campeau offer would give Allied shareholders $58 a share. ``It is a low-ball bid,'' says Monroe Greenstein, an analyst with Bear, Stearns & Co. in New York. ``The minimum bid, I think, is $61, and more likely something in the mid-60s would be an eventual price.''

A formal offer to shareholders has yet to be made. Mr. Greenstein said that ``unless the bid goes higher, Allied would resist it.''

Campeau has little experience in the retail field. Analysts in Canada say Mr. Campeau is not after the stores but the real estate they sit on. ``I think if he gets Allied, you will see the stores being sold off,'' one broker says.

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