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Holmes a Court Says He Won't Sway Texaco

July 22, 1987|DEBRA WHITEFIELD | Times Staff Writer

NEW YORK — Shunning the role of fulcrum in Texaco's $10.3-billion war with Pennzoil, Australian investor Robert Holmes a Court Tuesday strongly denied assertions that he is trying to use his power as Texaco's largest shareholder to orchestrate a quick settlement between the two oil companies.

In a short but forceful letter to Texaco Chief Executive James W. Kinnear, Holmes a Court strongly backed Texaco's management and took exception to recent suggestions by Pennzoil that he poses a threat to Texaco's independence. Holmes a Court, who owns 9.6% of Texaco's stock, has asked government officials for permission to buy up to 15% of the shares.

Supports Management

"I do not hold the view that Texaco management should be pressured or influenced or rushed into a compromise with Pennzoil," Holmes a Court said, adding: "It would seem abundantly clear to me that the interests of management and shareholders in Texaco are one and the same, and we would certainly give our support to the management of Texaco in our capacity as a significant shareholder."

As his motive for the letter, Holmes a Court cited recent newspaper reports "that could be construed" as suggesting that Holmes a Court's Bell Resources wants to influence a settlement in the companies' battle over the ownership of Getty Oil.

But public statements are unusual for Holmes a Court, and Pennzoil was clearly bewildered by the letter.

"It seems he's trying to distance himself from this while leaving all of his options open . . . but I'm a little bit suspicious that they (Texaco) may have some deal with the guy," said Baine P. Kerr, the Pennzoil director in charge of the Texaco battle.

Texaco, which made the letter public, would not say whether it had solicited a clarification of Holmes a Court's position. But the company is not restricted from communications with its shareholders.

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