NEW YORK — Rumors of a possible joint takeover bid by Australian investor Robert Holmes a Court and Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens Jr. propelled Texaco's stock to the top of the New York Stock Exchange's most-active list Friday. More than 7.2 million Texaco shares were traded, and the stock finished the day at $35.50 a share, up $1.875.
Holmes a Court was rumored to have recently purchased 3 million to 8 million of Texaco's 240 million shares. Wall Street had advanced essentially the same rumor late last month about Pickens, who has declined comment. Holmes a Court could not be reached.
Texaco, citing corporate policy, declined to comment on the latest of a steady barrage of takeover and settlement rumors.
The rumors had emerged sporadically ever since a Texas grand jury handed Houston-based Pennzoil a $10.5-billion judgment against Texaco in 1985. But they have escalated with Texaco's April 12 filing for bankruptcy protection and with Pennzoil Chairman J. Hugh Liedtke's comments after the company's annual meeting last week that if a settlement didn't occur by mid-May, the stalemate may continue for years.
Would Need $17 Billion
Bankruptcy lawyers on Friday minimized the takeover talk. Citing certain bankruptcy law guarantees, they said it is exceedingly difficult for anyone to orchestrate a hostile takeover in the first 120 days after a target company has filed for court-assisted reorganization.