Citicorp said Wednesday that it will launch today a $19-per-share, $680-million cash tender offer aimed at acquiring all of Quotron Systems, a leading provider of computer stock quotations and other financial information.
The offer, announced two days after Citicorp won conditional Federal Reserve Board approval for a takeover, is likely to succeed, analysts said. Quotron, headquartered in Los Angeles, rejected Citicorp's $19-per-share March merger offer, calling it inadequate.
But much of Quotron's stock is owned by arbitrageurs who bought shares after Citicorp's initial bid with the intent of seeking a quick profit by selling shares to the highest bidder. And, as no other bidders have come forward, the arbitrageurs would have to sell to Citicorp.
"It's a done deal," one Wall Street analyst said. "Quotron is gone."
"The absence of another stated bidder . . . bodes very well for Citicorp," said Osman Eralp, analyst for the securities firm of Hambrecht & Quist. He named AT&T, Reuters, McGraw-Hill and Dun & Bradstreet as firms that might have been interested in Quotron but did not bid.
A Quotron spokesman said the firm would have no comment until its board reviewed the Citicorp offer.
Quotron earlier had contended that the Citicorp bid could prompt some Quotron customers to withdraw their business. These customers, mostly securities firms, might not want Citicorp to have information on their business plans and securities trading, Quotron said.
The tender offer came as no surprise, given the Fed ruling and the fact that Citicorp's chairman, John S. Reed, hinted at a possible hostile offer last month.
Citicorp, the nation's largest bank holding company, wants to acquire Quotron as part of an ambitious expansion plan in fast-growing financial information services.
Citicorp won a victory Monday when the Fed approved a takeover on condition that the banking firm drop Quotron's computer hardware assembly operations within two years of a completed bid. Citicorp spokesman John Maloney said that provision would not pose any major problem.
Citicorp said it had "friendly discussions" Wednesday morning with Milton E. Mohr, Quotron's chairman and chief executive. "Based on these discussions, Citicorp is hopeful that Quotron's board will support Citicorp's offer," the banking firm said in a statement.
Citicorp also reiterated earlier statements that it intends to retain current Quotron management and operate the firm as a separate subsidiary.
However, analyst Eralp suggested that some Quotron managers might not stay out of unhappiness with Citicorp's refusal to sweeten the offer price. "If Citicorp really believes that the full management team will stay at this price, they're in a dream world," Eralp said.
Citicorp said its offer is subject to the tender of more than half of Quotron's stock and would expire on June 19. Salomon Bros. is dealer-manager.
In heavy over-the-counter trading Wednesday, Quotron stock closed at $19 a share, unchanged. Citicorp's offer was announced after the market closed.