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Discrepancies Noted in Testimony of Bren, Other Key Figures in Deal

November 08, 1987|LESLIE BERKMAN

Not everything in Donald L. Bren's testimony about events leading to his 1983 takeover of the Irvine Co. concurs with the recollections of other key players.

Bren said his determination to gain control crystallized when A. Alfred Taubman, a Detroit shopping center developer who was chairman of the Irvine Co. before Bren's buyout, told him on Feb. 14, 1982, that he wanted to consider liquidating the company.

Bren said Taubman made the suggestion, which Bren found unnerving, in a telephone conversation. He said Taubman had called to say he had just concluded a long meeting at his Palm Beach home with Peter Kremer, the company's president at the time, and two other Irvine Co. shareholders and directors, Herbert Allen Sr. and Max Fisher.

During the meeting, Bren said, the four men discussed problems facing the land development company. Bren testified that Taubman told him over the phone, "We ought to look at some way out. . . . We ought to look at a liquidation."

But in a sworn deposition, Taubman said he had "no recollection" of such a conversation and said he did not remember having "a thought of liquidation."

In similar sworn testimony, Kremer said he did not recall "having a specific conversation about liquidating the company."

Bren testified that he was surprised when Allen told him in February, 1983, that Taubman and Fisher had authorized Allen to look for a buyer for their Irvine Co. shares.

It was that discovery, Bren said, that prompted him to ask Allen to be his intermediary in making an acquisition offer to the two businessmen.

But in a deposition, Allen denied that Fisher and Taubman had authorized Bren to secure a buyer. "That's absolutely untrue," he said.

In another deposition, Fisher said that as of February, 1983, when Allen approached him on Bren's behalf, he had never told anyone he wanted to sell his stock.

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