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Many Suitors Showing Interest, Harper Says

March 24, 1987|Associated Press

NEW YORK — A "considerable number" of companies have expressed interest in Harper & Row Publishers Inc., which has been investigating its options following a pair of unsolicited takeover bids, the company said Monday.

Winthrop Knowlton, a Harper director and head of a special committee appointed March 13 to examine the company's alternatives, did not identify any of the companies.

Rival publisher Harcourt Brace Jovanovich Inc. has proposed $50 a share for Harper, topping an earlier $34-a-share bid from investor Theodore L. Cross.

In trading on the New York Stock Exchange, Harper closed up $4.50 a share, at $54.50.

In a brief statement, Harper said the special panel "has received expressions of interest from a considerable number of domestic and foreign firms with respect to restructuring or acquisition transactions with the company."

"No determination has been made by the full board of directors as to any transaction," Knowlton said.

He said the committee and its financial adviser, the investment firm Kidder, Peabody & Co., "intend to engage in active discussions with interested parties in an effort to come to a conclusion in the near future."

Harper is a 170-year-old publisher of general interest books as well as medical and college texts and children's books.

Cross, a magazine editor from Princeton, N.J., and one of Harper's biggest shareholders, offered March 9 to acquire the 94% stake in Harper that he did not already own for $190 million and to assume $40 million in debt.

But two days later, Orlando, Fla.-based Harcourt proposed to buy all 4.4 million Harper shares for $220 million.

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